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After PUBG, Shein set to make a comeback; is it an attempt to circumvent govt’s ban?

Popular Chinese e-commerce brand Shein, which was banned in January by the Indian government, is reportedly making a comeback through Amazon India.

Media reports suggest that the brand will be relaunched on the annual Amazon Prime Day sale scheduled from July 26 at midnight till July 27. While there is no official word from Shein or Amazon India, several users spotted an advertisement on Amazon which led to speculations that Amazon India may dedicate a page to the brand for sale of its products on Prime Day.

Shoppers have been ecstatic since the news of the comeback of the e-tailer broke on social media. The fashion brand has garnered popularity for its deep discounts and deals that offered a range of fashion products and is admired among young shoppers.

Shein was banned in June 2020 along with 58 other Chinese applications including TikTok, Weibo, PUBG, WeChat, among others by the Indian government amid raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of citizens. The Ministry of Electronics and IT said that the decision was taken “upon receiving credible inputs that such Apps pose threat to sovereignty and integrity of India.”

According to Amazon India’s privacy notice on its website, the e-tailer is “not in the business of selling our customers’ personal information to others.” However, it adds that Amazon shares customer data with third parties that are involved in fulfilling orders including deliveries, postal mails, e-mails, analysing data, providing marketing assistance and providing search results among others that work on behalf of Amazon.

“You can tell when a third party is involved in your transactions, and we share customers’ personal information related to those transactions with that third party,” the policy said without mentioning what customer details are shared in the process.

Meanwhile, Amazon lists down the consumer information that can be collected by it when a customer uses Amazon services. This includes name, age, address, payment information, IP Address, information of contacts saved in your phone, the e-mail address of friends and other people, voice recordings when you speak to Alexa, information from official documents included PAN numbers, credit history corporate and other financial information.

Gurjot Bhasin of Rooh Decor who sells home décor products through Amazon said that very limited customer information is shared with the sellers. “We only receive customer’s name and shipping address. They used to share phone numbers also but have now stopped doing that since last few months,” he said. He added that it was done to protect consumer data.

Ujjwal Bhasin, the owner of Ardyn, a brand for men’s shirts, also confirmed that only the name and shipping address is currently shared with the seller. “If we need to contact the buyer for reviews or invoice, it can be done through the portal only,” he added.

When asked about whether Amazon keeps a check on the use of customer data by the sellers, Bhasin explained that the company doesn’t “proactively” checks it but “doesn’t think twice before delisting a seller” in case of misuse.

While Amazon does have a ‘conditions of use’ policy that binds the sellers, it sheds responsibility in cases where the seller uses a third-party vendor.

Its policy states that Amazon is not responsible for “actions, products, and content of any of these and any other third-parties” and cannot be held liable for it.

If Shein makes a comeback through Amazon, it will be listed as a seller with the platform and will be privy to some customer data. While the fashion retailer has a dispute with the government, its attempt to enter the Indian market may need regulatory approvals as the ban hasn’t been lifted yet.

How is PUBG’s comeback different from Shein?

In contrast, the popular online mobile game PUBG got a new lease of life as a rebranded version called Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) after its ban in June 2020. Unlike the PUBG that was available globally, BGMI is restricted to India only.

While PUBG was developed by South Korean company Krafton, it was run by Chinese Tencent Gaming. Following the ban, PUBG Corporation (a subsidiary of Krafton) had said it will take on all publishing responsibilities within India and that China’s Tencent Games would no longer be authorised to distribute the PUBG Mobile franchise in India.

Krafton revoked the IP rights of Tencent for the game and re-entered the Indian markets. Krafton had reportedly announced that it would employ over 100 people in India and would also “collaborate with partners to build an e-sports ecosystem.”

But this wasn’t enough. Krafton still faced backlash and calls for banning the new game were raised. Former Union minister and current Arunachal Pradesh MLA Ninong Erin wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a ban on the PUBG Mobile relaunch, aka Battlegrounds Mobile India.

The minister stated that the game is a big threat to the security and privacy of Indians. The letter added that unscrupulous companies including Krafton, Tencent and PUBG India Pvt Ltd (a subsidiary of Krafton) are trying to “sidestep” the laws and “deceive the government and the Indian citizens.”

A similar sentiment was shared by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) that also wrote to the government pushing for a ban on BGMI.

After PUBG, it remains to be seen whether another Chinese brand, attempting to make a comeback using the Amazon route, will be received by the country after a year since it was banned. Money Control

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