An integrated approach to competition regulation and data protection in India

The concentration of market power in the hands of a few technology firms—from Microsoft to Google—has raised concerns amongst regulators and policymakers around the world. The collection and processing of personal data is at the heart of the revenue models and market power of these firms and digital platforms more broadly. In this essay, we analyse the role data plays in digital competition dynamics and chart the evolution of the Competition Commission of India’s approach towards digital platforms. We examine the pitfalls of keeping a firewall between the competition and data protection regulatory frameworks given the myriad ways in which control over data and digital privacy factors intersect with exploitative conduct and consumer harm in digital markets. Finally, we propose a more holistic approach that understands and uses the synergies between competition and data protection concerns to protect consumers and the competitive process in India.