There are other major deficiencies in the competition law when it comes to understanding internet companies, Manur said. “Without establishing that a company is dominant, the CCI cannot take any action. But we haven’t clearly defined what the relevant markets are for internet companies. Are Ola and Uber the two largest cab companies? Or are they small players in a very large transportation market that included cabs, metros, trains, etc?” This is one of the defences used by internet companies—that their relevant market isn’t restricted to the internet space. For instance, Google and Facebook argue that they are small players in the larger advertising market, online and offline.
As it stands, the competition law is not even equipped to detect some of the antitrust issues in the internet space, added Manur, an antitrust regulation researcher.
Manur said it was imperative to add the data footprint of an internet firm as one of the metrics in considering the impact on competition. “The consumer data owned by an internet company is one of the most important indicators of its dominance and impact. In gauging M&As in the internet space this factor needs to be added to the list of considerations.”