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Draft guidelines for e-commerce explained, and what it means for shoppers

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The government has suggested revisions to the Consumer Protection Act’s e-commerce laws. A number of the new provisions are similar to those proposed by the Center for Democracy and Technology for social media businesses. Several proposals aim to increase internet retailers’ liability for goods and services acquired through their platforms.

In response to a long-standing demand from sellers and traders, e-commerce guidelines propose to prohibit e-commerce corporations from “manipulating search results or search indexes.” In addition, the guidelines include the concept of “fall-back liability” for products sold through their platforms.

What else do these new rules change for consumers?

E-commerce firms will be required to offer domestic alternatives to imported items, bolstering the government’s push for made-in-India products. E-commerce companies would be required to join the National Consumer Helpline, according to the proposed change.

What changes for e-commerce companies?

The Department of Promotion for Industry and Internal Trade will require online retailers to register (DPIIT). The proposed rules would make it illegal for a marketplace e-commerce entity’s logistics service provider to treat sellers in the same category differently. Any business with a shared ultimate beneficial ownership of 10% or more will not be authorised to list as a seller on the appropriate platform.

What are the commonalities with the IT intermediary rules?

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has recommended requiring e-commerce enterprises to hire grievance officers, a chief compliance officer, and a nodal contact person “for round-the-clock coordination with law enforcement agencies.” In addition, the proposed guidelines would require them to share information with a government entity that is legally authorised to conduct investigative, protective, or cyber security activities. E-commerce companies will be required to provide the information requested by the government agency within 72 hours of receiving an order from the aforementioned authority.

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