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E-comm Companies Unanimously Oppose Key Proposals In Draft Policy

The e-commerce industry is set to take a unanimous stand against the proposed draft e-commerce policy restrictions on data localisation and cross-border flow of data and are set to ask the government that companies be allowed to share anonymised data.

Industry associations such as NASSCOM, Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the E-commerce Council of India, IndiaTech and others are set to submit their feedback to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) on Friday.

E-commerce companies have been deliberating on the draft policy since it was put up on February 23.

While industry associations hosting global players and those lobbying for domestic players have often been on opposite sides on several matters, they have made a unanimous call to ask that government does not enforce absolute data localisation and restriction on sharing of data of Indian users abroad.

The draft e-commerce policy has proposed regulating cross-border data flow,  banning sharing of data of Indian users stored abroad with other business and third-party entities, and mandating that all e-commerce companies have data storage in India.

The industry associations have vehemently opposed the proposal to give the government access to the source code and algorithms of e-commerce companies. Industry members said it will hit directly at the companies’ IP and innovation and will also slow down technology transfer to India.

Also, the associations have come together to seek the removal of all proposals that overlap with the existing or upcoming regulations such as the Data Protection Bill, the IT Act and the Competition Law, stating that it will create regulatory hurdles.

One of the key criticisms of the draft policy is that it focuses heavily on data protection and data privacy, which have already been addressed in the Data Protection Bill.

The policy proposes that a standing group of secretaries on e-commerce be recognised as the main mechanism to tackle inter-departmental issues, which industry associations say will also create another regulatory body.

The e-commerce companies have also come together in their objection to the proposal that puts the onus on online marketplaces to inform trademark owners about brand listings and of any possible counterfeit product being sold on a platform.

The industry demanded that onus on trademark owners be on par for online and offline and not be shifted to the online players alone.

E-commerce players believe that proposal to get authorisation from trademark owners may not be operationally feasible.

One of the points that industry associations have agreed within the policy is the proposal to ensure that cross-border e-commerce platforms register in India. It has also asked that these cross-border players be given the option to tie-up with Indian platforms.

Seller associations such as All India Online Vendors Association (AIOVA) has asked that a body is appointed to address grievances of sellers, while Confederation of All India Traders have sought that domestic players be treated on par with foreign companies under the policy.―CNBC TV18

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