May 13th, 2019
Shri Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Government of India, Udyog Bhawan, New Delhi — 110011
Subject: Concerns with the Draft National E‑Commerce Policy
We are writing this joint letter with regard to the public consultation on the Draft National E‑Commerce Policy (“the Draft Policy”) which concluded on March 29, 2019. A number of stakeholders including — technology companies, civil society, law firms, and industry associations have submitted their detailed comments to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (“the DPIIT”) on the Draft Policy.
Considering that the Draft Policy addresses a wide range of subjects, such as data protection and ownership, cross-border data flows, foreign investment, tax, competition issues, intellectual property and intermediary liability, among other things; and since these issues affect a wide range of stakeholders, we request the DPIIT to institute a more transparent and consultative public engagement process. Towards this, we request that the DPIIT publish all comments received by them as part of the public consultation on the Draft Policy and provide an opportunity to all stakeholders to submit counter-comments, as is the norm in other government consultations on policies of public interest.
Prior public consultations conducted by other Government bodies such as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (“TRAI”) and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology have maintained a higher level of transparency by publishing the comments received and providing an additional window for submitting countercomments. TRAI has also held ‘Open House Discussions’ (OHDs) for ensuring greater public participation. We believe that such a mechanism creates an environment for transparent, unbiased and a more well-reasoned policy making process. This will also be in spirit of the ‘Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy’ of the Government of India.
We request the DPIIT to maintain this tradition and ensure that there is no deviation in the principles of wider and transparent public consultations on this vital issue.
Alternative Law Forum
The Bachchao Project (http://thebachchaoproject.org)
The Free Software Movement Karnataka
Internet Democracy Project
Internet Freedom Foundation
Internet Society, Delhi Chapter
Point of View
Abhayraj Naik, Researcher, Bengaluru
Arul George Scaria, National Law University, Delhi
Geeta Seshu, Journalist and co-founder Free Speech Collective
Murali Neelakantan, Amicus
Nagarjuna G., Free Software Foundation of India
Nikhil Pahwa, co-founder SaveTheInternet
Prof. Rahul De, IIM Bangalore
Sarayu Natarajan, Bengaluru
Prof. Shishir K. Jha, IIT Bombay
Sivasubramanian Muthusamy, Internet Society India, Chennai
Sridhar Pabbisetty, Chief Enabler, Centre For Inclusive Governance
Vikram Vincent, IIT-Bombay
For further communication: Prasanth Sugathan Legal Director, SFLC.in prasanth @sflc.in