The government will officially release a new version of its controversial e-commerce policy draft for public comments in the next ten days. Sudhanshu Pandey, a Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce, announced the move at a roundtable in Delhi held by the Confederation of All India Traders, an industry body. The draft that leaked to the press had several provisions that raised objections from established e-tailers like Amazon and Flipkart, such as mandating localisation of personal data, reserving the rights to audit companies' source codes, reviving the National Encryption Policy, and more. A newer version of this draft will be made public for comments, in line with the government's Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy. Traders hail policy, express frustration Representatives of small traders at CAIT's roundtable hailed the provisions of the policy, which would place broader restrictions on Flipkart and Amazon, and would change policies in ways that would give small physical traders a leg up in comparison. Even so, representatives showed frustration. Some brought up the point that Press Note 3 by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion was not being followed. That note, issued in 2016, disallowed Foreign Direct Investment in B2C e-commerce companies, while leaving the route open for online marketplaces, which Amazon and Flipkart technically are. On paper, Amazon and Flipkart are not just marketplaces — they are allowed to provide support in "warehousing, logistics, fulfillment, order fulfillment, call center, payment collection, and other services," per the DIPP. That essentially means that they can essentially run on…
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