E-commerce policy should not “micromanage” online businesses, says CII

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Updated: April 2, 2019 8:35:34 PM

The draft e-commerce policy, released in February, aims to regulate cross-border data flows and seeks setting up of local data storage facilities along with a ‘data authority’ to create a framework for sharing data.

The e-commerce policy doesn’t allow for sensitive Indian data stored outside to be shared with foreign governments and businesses even there is customers’ consent.

Industry body CII in its comments on the draft e-commerce policy has made multiple suggestions to the government pertaining to regulations around data sharing and storage. CII on Tuesday said that regulations should enable innovations at e-commerce companies instead of looking at “micromanaging” them.

The draft e-commerce policy, released in February, aims to regulate cross-border data flows and seeks setting up of local data storage facilities along with a ‘data authority’ to create a framework for sharing data. It doesn’t allow for sensitive Indian data stored outside to be shared with foreign governments and businesses even there is customers’ consent.

CII said that forcing disclosures of information and data sharing can infringe privacy concerns and hence, it needs greater clarity around the government’s right for the forced transfer of proprietary information, PTI reported.

On the other hand, India’s e-commerce marketplaces and digital-first companies — The E-commerce Council of India (TECI) on Monday in its submission to DPIIT on the policy guidelines said that there should be enough scope for marketplaces through which the data is generated to exploit the non-personal data for their benefit.

“Government has taken a stand to define data as any other natural resource which is absolutely not true. While data will be generated in the absence of marketplaces as well but since they play a key part in its creation, marketplaces should have the right to use anonymised data for their commercial benefit. A standalone customer doesn’t have any data. Coming onto marketplaces leads to the generation of data,” Fynd’s Co-founder Harsh Shah and TECI’s member had told Financial Express Online.

With respect to the cases of IP infringements, CII said that the seller or manufacturer has a larger responsibility to prevent them even as the responsibility is limited yet joint with e-commerce companies that are intermediaries. TECI has also stressed on responsibilities for e-commerce marketplaces as per their role of intermediaries.

The council has asked the department to continue with the protection of intermediaries, that is marketplaces, as per liability of intermediaries under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act “without any dilution for e-commerce entities with regard to the legal obligations pertaining to sellers/brands,” it said.

“Whether it is about goods sold online, their quality, returns or even data, a lot of time customers end up holding marketplaces responsible for all of that. In fact, it actually happens on sellers or even buyers end too. Marketplaces in such cases should not be held liable,” Shah added.

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