Abuse of Dominance in Cyberspace: A Critical Analysis

By Himanshu Handa,  Associate


The dominance of cyberspace is a burgeoning issue for commercial benefits. Undue advantage is being taken for exploitation of the consumers as well as competitors by dominating the cyberspace, sometimes by major share in market or the innovations. The courts and regulating agencies are worried much due to the growth of users from 36 million to 2.8.billion between 2000 and 2015, with average growth of 17.5%. Google has specially dominated the cyberspace and affected many of the competitors. Competition Commission of India has also found that Google was in dominant position in the relevant markets, based on its market share and presence of high entry barriers and scale advantage, which limited ability of users to switch to other online search engines. On the three counts of abuse of dominance recognized by the CCI, it imposed a penalty of USD 21 million on Google, calculated at the rate of 5% of Google’s average total revenue generated from India operations for the financial years 2013, 2014, and 2015. Even European Commission has found violations and imposed a stunning fine of $5 billion on Google. But, Google denied and argued that it never violated any norms and dominated the cyberspace, as it is all due to the creation, expanding, and innovative and research-oriented technology. 


Cyberspace is the network at global level of various interdependent information technologies, telecommunication networks, and computer-based processing systems. It is quite different from the space as space is the lawyer’s natural environment, which represents our space in the physical environment. The understanding of cyberspace has become more relevant to stop cybercrimes and dominance of cyberspace for commercial use. As the revolution growth of internet technology has transformed the ability and approach of the marketers and consumers by the principal of “if anybody build it, people will come” due to network efforts, the number of chances for the demand for the products increase manifold due to rise in number of users. Rao and Klein rightly said that “An Industry platform with network effects leads to many more users for adopting the platform, which results to more users and complementors [3]. Internet’s remarkable growth is a model example of what is known as network effects, a positive demand side externality in which the value of a product or service to an individual user rises as the number of users increases. It is amazing to know that internet users grew from 36 million to 2.8 billons between 2000 and 2014 with average growth of 17.5%. 

Strategic cyber defense “loss” is a decrease in trust or a delay in delivery of a crucial cyberspace element or component of an element. The strategic cyber defense loses if the attacker can: 

  1. i) Retard the delivery of cyberspace elements or components needed for critical decisions; 
  2. ii) Reduce the velocity of dataflow in the defender’s cyber systems; 
  3. iii) Force the use of outdated/outmoded equipment or systems to secure cyberspace elements or components; 
  4. iv) Impede the exchange of cyberspace elements or components among the defenders; or 
  5. v) Retard improvements or adoption of cyberspace technologies. Clearly, cyber attackers will attempt to increase their capabilities in all five areas. Of critical importance during a cyber attack is that not all elements of cyberspace or components of each element are of equal value and the value of each element or component varies over time due to changes in the decision context [2]. 


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