. Recently, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched an antitrust suit against Google. DoJ alleged Google for unlawfully maintaining a monopoly in general search services and search advertising. DOJ claims that Google uses its financial power to pay for mobile-phone manufacturers, carriers and browsers, to maintain Google as their preset, default search engine and thereby creating a self-reinforcing cycle of dominance. These illegal trade practices, if true, results in an unprecedented concentration of market power in the hands of digital platforms like google. Moreover, current regulations in key international markets are fragmented, outdated and do not reflect consumer interests and international market realities in the digital environment.
The concern stems from the ability of the big firms like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, to own and operate a digital infrastructure on which the operations of the 21st century shall be stilted, thus influencing almost every aspect of public lives at large. With covid-induced accelerated adoption of digitalisation, the turf of Big Tech is no more mere corporate concern, but is very much a public concern.
The Competition Commission of India is reviewing recent mergers, antitrust cases and privacy issues, but regulations tend to always play catch-up to the undesirable upshots; policy thinking about Big Tech can’t afford that and need a prescient and comprehensive framework of core essential principles which the players must adhere to. Siloed and uncoordinated regulations will only sacrifice clarity, and allow these tech firms to find workable ways around those.
Social media platforms have serious implications for democracy as they now manufacture loyalty and outrage alike. The debate around free speech and potentially dangerous content is pressing due to the influence it has on shaping political discourse and increasing polarisation.
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