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Draft on e-comm policy centered around cross border data flow, govt to set up data authority


Last week the government had released the first draft on national e-commerce policy and is largely centered around consumer’s data and its ownership. According to the draft, consumer/user have full ownership of data they share with Internet firms.

The draft policy emphasised that the framework would be carved out to impose a restriction on cross-border data flow from e-commerce platforms, search engine, social media.

Data collected by IoT devices installed in public places and from any other means would be covered under the framework. The legal and technological framework would also come up with conditions for businesses as far as collection and processing of sensitive data locally and storing it overseas.

Importantly, the draft outlines that user’s data is a collective resource and a national asset – just like mine of natural resources and telecom spectrum/bandwidth.

Besides an emphasis on data storage and ownership, the government is also setting up data authority to take a call on the sharing of community data that serves the larger public interest with startups and firms.

The 40-page draft covers half a dozen issues related to electronic commerce including data, infrastructure development, regulatory concerns, marketplaces, invigorating local digital economy and export promotion via e-commerce.

Although the draft asserts – data is an individual’s right, experts believe that it restricts within a larger economic framework.

The draft also mentioned preferential treatment to local digital products.

Meanwhile, traders’ body CAIT said the draft policy has left out several areas which would create new problems for e-commerce segment. The body demands that it doesn’t include domestic players.

On the other hand, hit by the new FDI rule dated February 1, Flipkart and Amazon have appreciated the government seeking consultation on the draft e-commerce policy. However, they will go through the draft and will give their inputs soon.

This is the second draft released by the department for the promotion of industry and internal (DPIIT) as a slew of concerns were raised over the first draft. The government has invited comments and suggestions on the draft report before March 9.

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