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Now, nine government agencies to regulate e-commerce sector in India

In order to effectively
regulate India’s burgeoning e-commerce market, the department of consumer
affairs has moved a note for the consideration of the committee of secretaries
(CoS) to designate nine departments in the government with specific areas and
issues in the sector to handle and oversee, reports the
Financial
Express.

In order to effectively
regulate India’s burgeoning e-commerce market, the department of consumer
affairs has moved a note for the consideration of the committee of secretaries
(CoS) to designate nine departments in the government with specific areas and
issues in the sector to handle and oversee, reports the
Financial
Express.

The department
of consumer affairs has sought approval for a proposal for clear allocation of
business rules with respect to the sector, stating that the e-commerce
activities are too complex and diverse in nature to come under the jurisdiction
of a single department or ministry.

According to the
report, currently, there is no single law in the country to regulate, monitor
and supervise e-commerce.

An undisclosed
source told the Financial Express that monitoring the activities in this sector
is a difficult task due to the lack of proper licensing of online retailers.
They also added that the government has taken note of online retailers cleverly
taking undue advantage by operating out of low tax regions. Accessing data
on servers and data centres situated overseas is also a major concern.  Also, many of the sellers also do not provide
proper contact information.

These concerns have
pushed the department to seek clarity on how different government departments should
handle e-commerce activities.

Highlights from
the consumer affairs department’s proposal:

  1. The department of revenue will handle
    taxation related issues.
  2. Reserve Bank of India will look into
    banking and foreign exchange issues.
  3. The consumer affairs department will take
    care of the consumer protection issues.
  4. The commerce and industry ministry will
    look after the foreign investment and trade policy.
  5. The ministry of IT and telecom will
    handle data protection, cyber security and issues related to registration of
    server and websites.
  6. The corporate affairs ministry while handle
    the competition policy related matters.
  7. The finance, corporate and home
    ministries will look after matters related to criminal frauds.
  8. The statistics department will maintain a
    database on the sector.
  9. The Information and broadcasting ministry
    will take care of advertising norms and related matters.

For now, most of
the complaints related to the sector are being referred to the consumer affairs
department on the grounds that since the department looks into ‘internal trade’
matters, it should handle e-commerce matters too, as such activities also
constitute ‘internal trade’.

According to the
report, the consumer affairs department has asked for more clarity in the
definition of ‘internal trade’. The department said though it can take care of
consumer protection issues and grievances, e-commerce also has several other
issues including tax evasion, online frauds, predatory business practices, data
privacy/cyber security and FDI.

The department
said small and medium enterprises with very limited resources are troubled by
multiplicity of rules and regulations of e-commerce, and therefore are not able
to make use of business opportunities.

 

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