E-com­merce pol­icy stuck over data pro­tec­tion law

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - FRONT PAGE - Ra­jeev Jayaswal ra­[email protected] CON­TIN­UED ON P 8

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.

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