The Centre is planning to get an independent regulator for the ecommerce sector, much like the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
According to a report by Moneycontrol, the government reportedly plans to create an Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC). The ONDC will be a platform to connect sellers and logistics providers with buyers.
The aim of the regulator will be to ensure a level playing field and see to it that the sector remains competitive and new entrants are not restricted.
Additionally, in a meeting which was chaired by Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, it was announced that the ONDC will be compliant with the Information Technology Act, 2000 and designed for compliance with the emerging Personal Data Protection Bill too.
The regulator will hear complaints from everyone involved including consumers, brick-and-mortar traders and ecommerce players. It will be one centralised authority for non-personal data exchanges. It may also have the power to do dispute settlement, and impose penalties.
This announcement comes only a few days after the central government stated that it is considering adding some changes in its consumer protection (eCommerce)Rules, 2020 to bring further clarity into flash sales and party sales after receiving consultation from industry experts and ecommerce players.
As per the rules, ecommerce companies have been tasked to ensure that none of their “related parties and associated enterprises” are listed as sellers on their platforms, and no related entity should sell goods to an online seller operating on the same platform. The rules specifically state that related parties or associated enterprises should do nothing that the ecommerce entity cannot do itself.
Ecommerce platforms will also be required to appoint a nodal contact person for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies and officers to ensure compliance to their orders.
Similar to the potential ecommerce regulator, the new rules are in place to bring more scrutiny in the booming ecommerce space of the country, as well as allowing a level playing field to both ecommerce giants and small businesses.