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Amazon, Google Face Tough Rules in India’s E-Commerce Draft

The government has been working on the policy for at least two years amid calls to reduce the dominance of global tech giants like Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc.

google, google pixel, pixel 4a, pixel 5, google sabrina, chromecast 2020, Google nest home speaker, google upcoming products, pixel 2020 Google and other e-commerce giants face challenges under new e-commerce policy (File Photo)

India’s latest e-commerce policy draft includes steps that could help local startups and impose government oversight on how companies handle data.

The government has been working on the policy for at least two years amid calls to reduce the dominance of global tech giants like Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc.

Under rules laid out in a 15-page draft seen by Bloomberg, the government would appoint an e-commerce regulator to ensure the industry is competitive with broad access to information resources. The policy draft was prepared by the Ministry of Commerce’s Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade.

The proposed rules would also mandate government access to online companies’ source codes and algorithms, which the ministry says would help ensure against “digitally induced biases” by competitors. The draft also talks of ascertaining whether e-commerce businesses have “explainable AI,” referring to the use of artificial intelligence.

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India’s roaring digital economy, with half a billion users and growing, is witnessing pitched battles in everything from online retail and content streaming to messaging and digital payments. Global corporations lead in each of these segments, while local startups have sought help from a sympathetic government that recently banned dozens of apps backed by Chinese technology giants.

The ministry will offer the draft policy for stakeholder comments on a government website.

There’s a tendency among some of the leading companies to exercise control over most of the information repository, the draft said.

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“It is in the interest of the Indian consumer and the local ecosystem that there are more service providers” and that “the network effects do not lead to creation of digital monopolies misusing their dominant market position,” it said.

First published on: 06-07-2020 at 12:41:41 pm
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