E-commerce policy: Empowering Amazon, Flipkart to blacklist sellers is alarming, says sellers’ body

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Updated: February 24, 2019 4:24:51 PM

The draft e-commerce policy said that if a seller is found to be selling counterfeit products, the marketplace should blacklist that seller from selling on its platform for a specified period.

The policy has called for ‘creation of financial disincentive’ by marketplaces for sellers against selling counterfeit goods.

Online sellers’ body All India Online Vendors Association (AIOVA) has found the draft e-commerce policy empowering online marketplaces to blacklist sellers if found selling counterfeit products, to be “very alarming”.

The government in the latest draft e-commerce policy has said that “if a seller is found to be selling counterfeit products, the marketplace should blacklist that seller from selling on its platform for a specified period,” under its anti-counterfeiting measures.

“The power is given completely to the marketplaces including Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal etc., even as the policy doesn’t talk about the appeal mechanism or any dispute resolution mechanism for sellers in such a scenario. This is very alarming because we have received a lot of complaints in the past that sellers were blacklisted just because one product that they didn’t even know was counterfeit. This should be looked into by the government,” an AIOVA spokesperson told Financial Express Online requesting anonymity.

Also, with respect to ‘Prevention of Sale of Prohibited Items’ as per the draft policy, marketplaces have been asked that “such sellers shall also be blacklisted from the platform”.

Discomfort to Sellers?

Another area that has irked AIOVA in the draft policy is ‘creation of financial disincentive’ for sellers by marketplaces against selling counterfeit goods. However, the draft didn’t elaborate on it.

“This is completely wrong because such issues have been raised arbitrarily and out of the blue in the past to trouble sellers. In case of any penalty, it should go to the government coffer instead of turning it into a revenue model for marketplaces,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also highlighted that the policy has skipped mentioning domestic e-commerce players that are not FDI backed. “Seeing the sector only from the FDI perspective is completely wrong. There are Indian marketplaces also to be brought under the ambit.

While Amazon and Flipkart are yet to share their views on the policy, a Snapdeal spokesperson said that it is a welcome move that will provide a ‘facilitative policy environment’, PTI quoted.

The draft e-commerce policy categorically focuses on six issues including data, infrastructure development, e-commerce marketplaces, regulatory issues, stimulating the domestic digital economy, and export promotion through e-commerce.

The policy has aimed at encouraging FDI in the marketplace model only and asserted that online marketplaces, that includes Flipkart and Amazon, should not have discriminatory strategies that lead to favouring only one or a few sellers.

The policy also underlined that data collected or processed in India but stored abroad by companies shall not be made available to other companies outside India or a third party despite customer consent. Also, Indian authorities shall have ‘immediate’ access to all such data stored abroad, the policy said.

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