CCI to Accelerate Amazon, Flipkart Surveys as Big Tech Attention Heats, Marketing & Advertising News, ET BrandEquity

India’s Competition Commission (TCC) plans to speed up resumption of investigation into allegations of anti-competitive behavior at Inc. and Walmart Inc’s Flipkart, even as country steps up scrutiny of big tech companies , said two people familiar with the matter. .

The comments come as major US-based tech companies, including Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc., are at odds with the government on issues such as data privacy bills and policies that some executives industry have called it protectionist.

CCI opened an investigation in January last year based on a complaint alleging that Amazon and Flipkart were promoting certain sellers on their e-commerce platforms and that large discounts were stifling competition.

The companies have denied the wrongdoing.

Almost immediate legal challenges by the couple blocked the investigation for more than a year until a court last week allowed it to resume, after rejecting arguments that the ICC lacked evidence.

Although Amazon and Flipkart are likely to appeal, the ICC plans to seek information from them regarding the allegations “as soon as possible,” said one of the people, who declined to be identified due to sensitivity. of the case.

The investigation “will be expedited,” the person said.

Such surveys in India usually take months.

Amazon declined to comment. Flipkart and the ICC did not respond to requests for comment.

India is a huge market for US tech giants …

In priority

The ICC is speeding up all cases involving large tech companies, including deploying additional agents for certain cases and meeting tighter internal deadlines, said the two, who are familiar with watchdog thinking.

“Cases involving digital companies are becoming a priority at CCI as they can have a significant impact on the Indian economy and startups,” said one of the people.

Last year, the ICC began examining allegations that Google abused its Android operating system’s position in the smart TV market, and is expected to order a full antitrust investigation soon, people said. Google declined to comment. Such an investigation would be the third against Google, with the Alphabet Inc. unit already grappling with cases related to Android as well as its payment app.

ITC is also investigating the practices of MakeMyTrip and changes to Facebook’s WhatsApp privacy policy.

Preferential treatment

The investigation into Amazon and Flipkart is restarting as the two grapple with accusations from offline retailers that their complex business structures allow them to bypass foreign investment rules for e-commerce.

In February, a Reuters investigation based on Amazon documents showed that the e-trader had for years granted preferential treatment to a small group of sellers on its Indian platform. While arguing for a restart of the investigation, the ICC told a court in Karnataka that the Reuters report corroborated the evidence. Amazon, which said it “does not give preferential treatment to any seller,” told the court it disagreed with the Reuters report.

CCI will review the Reuters report and may use it as part of its investigation, one of the people said.

“The ICC’s plan to expedite these cases is in line with that of other antitrust regulators around the world investigating digital markets such as e-commerce and online research, which are dynamic and rapidly changing,” said an Indian antitrust lawyer who represents technology companies.

The tech giants have said they are genuinely committed to helping local and regional outlets …

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