National eCommerce Policy: What India’s new (Draft) eCommerce Policy outlines for Online Retailers and its Regulatory aspects
The India Draft National eCommerce Policy is a high-level policy document proposed by India's Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade in February 2019. It sketches out a series of policy recommendations that range from useful consumer protections to non-constructive protectionist industry regimes that would likely backfire and hurt businesses, entrepreneurs and consumers alike. The best of these recommendations would institute stricter consumer protections against annoying, unsolicited phone calls and emails. But the worst of them would make data transfers difficult, impose onerous liability on third party platforms, and institute data localization that would reduce business and consumer choices.
Within India, the draft policy boosts the government‟s schemes/ programmes, such as Digital India, Skill India, Make in India and Startup India, which rely on eCommerce and its components. For instance, it has introduced norms for consumer protection, recognized the importance of data, its protection and storage, granted infrastructure status to data centers and server farms, integrated different systems to track imports and introduced anti-counterfeiting and anti-piracy measures.
It is also in sync with the recently updated industrial policy which reflects the underlying brick-and-mortar economy. However, the stakeholders, including industry, its associations and the independent policy community, point out that in the government‟s enthusiasm to address all these many aspects of eCommerce, the Draft Policy has become ambiguous, raising questions about whether it is intended to be an internet policy or a specific eCommerce policy. (1)
The National eCommerce Policy is aimed to address concerns which go beyond the sale and purchase of products by electronic means. For example, environmentally sustainable growth by outlining regulatory aspects on Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, suitable policy will be devised to promote “reduce, reuse and recycle” practices by stakeholders. In the era of Industrial Revolution 4.0, economic development is based on data which is generated, stored, transmitted or processed in large volumes. The increasing importance of data warrants treating it at par with other resources on which a country would have sovereign right. The Policy recognizes the importance of data while enabling the domestic industry to benefit from the advantages and opportunities created by electronic commerce. (2)
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5. World Trade Organization, Joint Statement on Electronic Commerce, 25 January 2019 [Internet]. Rfmlr.com; 2019 [cited 2019 Aug 11]. Available from:
6. Pioneer T. India should join e-commerce talks at WTO [Internet]. The Pioneer; 2019 [cited 2019 Aug 12]. Available from:
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