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Draft E-commerce policy mandates equal treatment of sellers, tries to address monopolistic behaviour

E-commerce companies in the country must to ensure that all sellers and vendors registered on their platform are given equal treatment, and they cannot use algorithms that prioritise select players, proposes the Draft E-Commerce Policy 2021. The policy, a copy of which has been reviewed by MediaNama, also prescribes principles on how to use customer data and safeguards around it. Importantly, it prohibits e-commerce companies from using information collected to obtain a market advantage against sellers on their platforms. The policy was first reported by Reuters. The draft policy comes at a time when Amazon, one of the biggest e-commerce companies in the country, is under scrutiny for allegedly giving preferential treatment to some sellers, at the expense of others. According to a Reuters report from last month, just 35 sellers accounted for two-thirds of Amazon's sales in India. This is the third iteration of the policy, the first version being released in March 2019, and the second one in July 2020. The draft policy covers all modes of e-commerce — inventory (when the entity sells its own products and services being sold on the platform), marketplace (when an entity only facilitates sale of goods and services through the platform)  and hybrid models. It will apply to entities with both foreign and domestic investments. The policy notes that there is a tendency in e-commerce activity for "one or two strong companies" to emerge as leaders which gain control over the repository of data. "In this world, digital capital has come…

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