E-commerce players need to practise fair and transparent information disclosures while giving utmost importance to consumers’ consent, privacy and interest, a new study said recently while listing out a detailed set of voluntary guidelines for all stakeholders involved in this industry. The suggested guidelines focus on various key issues such as important disclosures about sellers, products, payments and dispute resolution and also advocate greater proactive participation from the government and the civil society to sensitise online consumers about nuances of the business.
The report, titled ‘Consumer Empowerment: Fortifying Consumer Protection in E-commerce’, has been jointly prepared by public policy research and advisory firm, Chase India, and leading consumer protection group, Consumer Voice.
It underlines need for concerted efforts between the Government, industry and voluntary consumer groups to safeguard consumer rights on e-commerce platforms. The report assumes significance as Parliament recently passed the Consumer Protection Bill, 2019, a legislation that aims to modernise the current legislation on consumer protection to keep up with the changes in markets for ensuring fair, equitable and consistent outcomes for consumers. The Department of Consumer Affairs has also released a set of guidelines with the objective of ensuring consumer protection in e-commerce. Ashim Sanyal, Chief Operating Officer of Consumer Voice, said the recent policy interventions made by Government are a welcome step as the Bill and new guidelines seek to address some of the concerns about this business.
“While the growth trajectory of e-commerce in India is promising on many levels, it calls for concerted efforts between the Government, industry and consumer groups like us in making policy frameworks that are inclusive and prescient,” Sanyal said. The report has highlighted growing concerns in the e-commerce sector such as information asymmetry, complexity of terms and conditions, unfair commercial practices, data privacy, and payment security, among others.
Chase India’s Group Business Director Kaushal Mahan said the voluntary guidelines proposed in the report are in sync with the global best practices.