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Parliamentary Committee flags predatory pricing, consumers’ data privacy in new report

Predatory pricing by e-commerce giants may wipe out competition and harm consumer choice in the long run. Consumers' data privacy and security are of paramount importance. These are some of issues that a Parliamentary Committee raised around the Ministry of Consumer Affairs' Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020. The Committee on Subordinate Legislation, headed by Congress MP Partap Singh Bajwa, tabled its report on the Rules in Parliament on March 24. Drafted under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, and notified in July 2020, the Rules require e-commerce marketplaces to mandatorily display country of origin on their products, with penal action for non-compliance. Players have to display the total price of goods and services along with a cost breakup; they also have to display details on return, refund, warranty, shipment and so on. The Rules prohibit manipulation of prices and imposing cancellation charges on consumers, among other things. We have reproduced the Commitee's key recommendations on the Rules below. Committee's Recommendations 1. Privacy and Personal data User privacy and data security are of the "utmost importance" and right to be forgotten is paramount. The provision for mandatory recording of explicit consumer consent (for purchase of products) is appreciated, but is insufficient to protect users' personal data, which should be categorised per the sensitivity levels with adequate protections for each level. A secured and robust payment gateway system should be available to customers so that their transaction-related data is not compromised. The Rules itself should have a provision stating that personal data of…

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