As ecommerce platforms are witnessing restrictions from different ministries, these emarketplaces have been raising the demands for a consolidated set of guidelines. However, the demand has been overlooked.
The commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal recently said that his ministry is working on a national ecommerce policy, which will be ready by June 2020. Moreover, the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) and consumer affairs are having parallel discussions to frame another set of policies for these companies.
MeitY has set up a committee, headed by Infosys cofounder Kris Gopalakrishnan, to discuss non-personal data and is also working on a Personal Data Protection Bill 2018. Under the Personal Data Protection Bill, the government has clearly defined what are personal and sensitive data.
Personal data is any data of an individual which allows “direct or indirect identifiability”. Sensitive personal data includes financial data, biometric data, religious and political leaning, etc. The committee is also studying issues related to non-personal data, which have not been indicated in the draft bill.
Since, these ecommerce websites use to target ads and product listing, among others to attract customers, they will come under the ambit of these policies.
The Ministry Of Consumer Affair
The Ministry Of Consumer Affairs, meanwhile, is working on draft guidelines for the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, which was passed earlier this year. These guidelines will be included in the Act, after receiving feedback and suggestions from the stakeholders. Once added, these guidelines will be mandatory.
The aim of these guidelines is to prevent fraud, unfair trade practices and protecting consumer benefits and regulate ecommerce companies.
The New FDI Norms
The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade’s (DPIIT) had implemented a new set of FDI policies on February 1 to provide a level playing field for local vendors who operate from brick-and-mortar stores and the big-budget ecommerce companies.
Under these norms, there were three main guidelines. First, the companies cannot have different agreements for the vendors in similar circumstances. Second, the companies cannot sign an exclusivity contract with any vendors. Third, foreign-funded websites cannot host products of vendors or companies in which they have a stake in.
After the implementation of these different set of guidelines, the ecommerce websites would have to reshape their business models.