The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is likely to release a new draft of the proposed e-commerce policy by this month.
The DPIIT is trying to iron out differences among ministries on setting up an e-commerce regulator and its reach. Some ministries have suggested that the Central Consumer Protection Authority under the consumer affairs ministry should take up the role. The issue was discussed at an inter-ministerial meeting on Saturday to deliberate on the draft e-commerce policy.
“There are differences of opinion on many issues and we don’t have a final view on anything,” said an official. “We are trying to finish this so that we can release a draft in the public domain this month.”
While the previous draft in July last year had proposed a regulator, an ecommerce law, periodic audit of companies that store or mirror Indian users’ data overseas and make available any data the government seeks within 72 hours or pay a penalty, the latest draft calls for streamlining of regulatory processes to ease the burden of compliance for activities related to ecommerce and regulations for data that will provide for sharing mechanism.
In the earlier draft, the department had proposed to set up a regulator for the sector and a law to restrict the information that firms can store, use, transfer, process and analyse and had provided for regulations on issues such as security, law and order, law enforcement, taxation and safety of individuals to enable the government to have speedy access to data flowing through ecommerce platforms that operate in the country.
“A regulator is required to maintain a level playing field and check the influence of monopolistic tendencies so as to protect small retailers especially because the world is going that way,” said an expert on e-commerce issues, adding that the European Union has unveiled the Digital Markets Act to provide additional regulation of digital markets especially of very large online platforms.
At present, different laws and regulations such as the Income Tax Act, Consumer Protection Act, Information Technology Act, Foreign Exchange Management Act, Competition Act, and Payment and Settlement Systems Act govern e-commerce activities in India. Economic Times