The atypical nature of an e-commerce transaction necessitates a consumer protection framework, the draft e-commerce policy said.

Online shoppers are set to get respite from promotional messages and emails spamming their devices from e-commerce marketplaces as the government aims to regulate them with a legal framework.

“Unsolicited commercial messages (on various platforms including but not limited to SMSs, emails etc.) and calls will be regulated. A legal framework for this will be developed,” the draft e-commerce policy said.

“The atypical nature of an e-commerce transaction necessitates a consumer protection framework specific to this sector,” it added.

Highlighting India’s shift towards electronic redressal system for grievances of aggrieved consumers, the policy said that having such a digital system for transactions done digitally is a rational move.

The government will develop mechanisms to set up consumer courts as part of the mission mode e-government project, the policy said.

The draft e-commerce policy categorically focuses on six issues including data, infrastructure development, e-commerce marketplaces, regulatory issues, stimulating the domestic digital economy, and export promotion through e-commerce.

The policy has aimed at encouraging FDI in the marketplace model only and asserted that online marketplaces, that includes Flipkart and Amazon, should not have discriminatory strategies that lead to favouring only one or a few sellers.

“E-commerce websites/applications are required to ensure that all product shipments from other countries to India must be channelized through the customs route,” the draft said.

Importantly, it has directed all e-commerce websites and applications “available for downloading” in India must have a registered business entity in India or the entity through which all sales in India are transacted.

The policy also underlined that data collected or processed in India but stored abroad by companies shall not be made available to other companies outside India or a third party despite customer consent. Also, Indian authorities shall have ‘immediate’ access to all such data stored abroad, the policy said.

The policy has come around at a time when developed countries, including the US, is asking the World Trade Organization for norms related to trade carried out through e-commerce channel.


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