E-commerce policy stuck over data protection law
DRAFTS OF BOTH,
THE POLICIES AND THE BILL, ARE READY AND WITH THEIR RESPECTIVE MINISTRIES, AWAITING A POLITICAL GREEN LIGHT, SAID OFFICIALS
NEW DELHI: India’s long-pending e-commerce policy is stuck because the enabling personal data protection law is yet to be cleared by the cabinet and the government neither wants to upset foreign investors nor alienate the country’s 70 million domestic traders, a key constituency of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Changes in foreign direct investment policy for so-called e- marketplaces that came into effect on February 1 have already caused disruptions for the two largest online retailers — Amazon India, the Indian unit of Amazon.com, and Flipkart, owned by Walmart Stores.
Drafts of both the e-commerce policy and the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 are ready and in their respective ministries, awaiting a political green light, three officials from three different ministries said on condition of anonymity.
The e-commerce policy is contingent upon the personal data protection policy, which will specify the nature of sensitive data that cannot be hosted in overseas servers, and lay down measures to protect personal details of customers, according to the officials.
Email queries sent to the ministry of commerce and industry, the ministry of law and the ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity) on Tuesday did not elicit any responses.
While MCI is responsible for the e-commerce regulations, Meity is responsible for the personal data protection legislation.
According to the officials cited above, the government is apprehensive of the timing as the policies cannot please both foreign investors and local traders. It is cautious and evaluating various options, one of the officials said.