November 25, 2020 at 11:40 pm
The House of Representatives approved on Tuesday night the bill mandating the creation of the Electronic Commerce Bureau that will be tasked to protect consumers and merchants engaged in internet transactions.
The chamber approved House Bill 7805, or the proposed Internet Transactions Act, on third and final reading with 232 affirmative votes, six negative votes and no abstentions.
Business-to-business and business-to-consumer commercial transactions over the Internet will be regulated under the proposed law.
Those include those related to Internet retail, online travel services, digital media providers, ride-hailing services and digital financial services.
The proposed Electronic Commerce Bureau will regulate online trade, and will be the virtual one-stop-shop for consumer complaints on internet transactions. The bureau will be the Internet trade’s “central authority” as proposed.
Valenzuela City Rep. Wes Gatchalian, the bill’s author, said the proposed bureau would only have authority over those activities that were currently not regulated but were nevertheless conducted over the internet.
“Any regulation of the eCommerce Bureau that may affect regulated industries shall only be ancillary to the government agency or instrumentality exercising primary jurisdiction over that specific activity,” he said.
Gatchalian said the proposed law would not cover consumer-to-consumer transactions or those considered petty, one-off, or low-value transactions.
The bill would also require the Department of Trade and Industry to lead the establishment of an eCommerce Trustmark.
Gatchalian said that would encourage local businesses to go online and foreign organizations to choose to register with the e-commerce bureau.
“This Trustmark will represent safety and security in Internet transactions that will ultimately build consumer confidence and lead to a robust growth of the internet economy,” Gatchalian said.
“As consumers, you will want to deal with entities that have been given this seal of approval. As a merchant, you would want to have this Trustmark on your website so that your consumers can transact with peace of mind.”
Under the proposed law, online e-commerce platforms such as Lazada, Shopee, and Zalora would share solidary liability with their own merchants if those platforms failed to exercise extraordinary diligence to prevent any loss or damage to the consumer, failed to publish the details of their merchants, failed to examine goods related to food, drugs and cosmetics, among other things.
The proposed law would make it illegal to cancel orders for food and/or grocery items made via ride-hailing services when the items had already been paid or were already in the possession of the ride-hailing service partner or in transit to the consumer.
It would also be illegal to “unreasonably shame, demean, embarrass or humiliate ride-hailing service partners.”