India’s antitrust watchdog plans to expedite a restarted probe into allegations of anti-competitive behavior at Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart, as it intensifies scrutiny of big-tech firms, two people close to the matter said.
The comments come as major US technology firms, including Twitter and Facebook, are at loggerheads with the government over issues such as data privacy bills and policies some industry executives have called protectionist.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) initiated a probe in January last year on the basis of a complaint alleging Amazon and Flipkart promoted select sellers on their e-commerce platforms and that deep discounts stifled competition.
Near-immediate legal challenges from the pair stalled the probe for over a year until a court last week allowed it to resume, having dismissed arguments that the CCI lacked evidence.
Though Amazon and Flipkart are likely to appeal, the CCI plans to demand information from them related to the allegations “as quickly as possible,” said one of the people, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.
The investigation “will be expedited,” the person said. Such investigations in India typically take months to complete.
The CCI is speeding up all cases involving big technology firms, including by deploying additional officers for some cases and working to more stringent internal deadlines, said the two people, who are familiar with the watchdog’s thinking.
“Cases involving digital firms are getting priority at CCI as they can have a significant impact on the economy and Indian startups,” said one of the people.
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