India’s draft E-commerce policy likely to be released this month

A new draft of the proposed e-commerce policy is expected to be released this month by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

The proposed e-commerce policy was discussed in an inter-ministerial meeting on March 13, and the government is consulting with various stakeholders this week before unveiling the final policy.

As per reports, the DPIIT is trying to resolve the 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.

An official informed “There are differences of opinion on many issues and we don’t have a final view on anything. We are trying to finish this so that we can release a draft in the public domain this month.”

The first draft which was proposed 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. 

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.

Now, 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.

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.

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