‘Internet firms pose a big challenge to anti-trust bodies’

Competition agencies around the world should “collaborate” to tackle competition issues thrown up by digital and internet businesses, Michal Halperin, who heads Israel’s Anti Trust Authority, has said.

“This is an issue that disturbs everyone (Countries). We may need to think out of the box. This may require us to abandon the very classical and traditional analysis of competition to handle the big internet platforms,” Halperin told BusinessLine here in an interview.

Such digital businesses, which work on a different business model, tend to almost challenge Competition authorities, she noted.

There is a need for some form of a task force among the global competition authorities to look into the digital and data markets.

“Every authority is looking to deal with it in different ways. Instead of learning from each other as to how to better deal this situation, we need to work together,” she said.

Halperin, who is here to attend the 17th Annual ICN conference, said there has to be collaboration on both the aspects of “learning what the problems are” and also “in thinking on how to tackle these problems”.

“These are two different stages. But I think cooperation between Competition agencies around the world will benefit everyone,” she said.

Israel’s Antitrust Authority plans to this year devote considerable resources and time to study the digital businesses and their industries, Halperin added.

Halperin’s remarks on need for “collaboration” are significant as it came a day after India’s Competition Commission Chief Devender Kumar Sikri said that technological changes like big data, internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain pose competition challenges.

“While we reap benefits from them, we must also be ready to face challenges,” Sikri had said.

Israel’s reforms

Meanwhile, Halperin said that Israel was in the process of legislating reforms to its Competition law. “Our priority this year is to get this completed.”

Besides raising the merger filing threshold, plans are afoot to modify the definition of ‘dominance’ and ‘monopoly’.

“Today, we define monopoly as one having market share of over 50 per cent. We want to introduce the concept of market power in the definition of ‘monopoly’. So there be both market share and market power as factors that would determine a monopoly,” said Halperin.

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