The Competition Commission of India’s (CCI’s) suggestion of self-regulatory measures by e-commerce firms has elicited a mix of responses.
The study, ‘Market study on e-commerce in India’, begun in April 2019, was issued by CCI on Wednesday. The most consequential section of the report is the self-regulatory measures formulated by CCI, says Salman Waris, managing partner at Delhi-based TechLegis Advocates & Solicitors. “However, this feted advocacy initiative of the CCI promises to be controversial, as it makes e-commerce companies judges of their own cause and raises genuine questions (related) to the merit of allowing them to self-regulate to solve unfair practices that have been adopted by the very same companies,” he said.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has opposed the proposed self-regulation. It has asked that the government look at formulation of regulations and to set up an authority to monitor these entities.
“We have seen that self-regulation does not work, since it has no legal binding or obligation,” said CAIT secretary-general Praveen Khandelwal. “The film industry of India is a live example – it has self-regulation but no one is following these. The e-commerce market is highly vitiated by e-commerce companies, to the extent where self-regulation has no meaning. The government should formulate regulations.”
The CCI report talks of the use of algorithms by e-commerce firms which harness volumes of macro and micro data to influence decisions, affecting people in a range of tasks. According to Avaantika Kakkar, partner at law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, the Commission has suggested industry self-regulation with respect to clear criteria for search rankings. “Particularly where remuneration criteria (commissions) is a factor that determines visibility or ranking on the platform. With respect to the collection, use and sharing of data, the Commission suggests a clear policy. Again, the emphasis is on striking a balance between opacity and transparency, to facilitate a sustainable working relationship with stakeholders,” she said.―Business Standard