13 May 2019

On 29 March 2019, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) of the Government of India concluded a public consultation regarding the Draft National E-Commerce Policy. However, the comments received were not shared publicly by the DPIIT, nor have stakeholders been provided the opportunity to share counter-comments.

The Internet Democracy Project has joined a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals in asking DPIIT to ensure greater transparency and participation in the consultation. Please find the full text of the letter below.

May 13th, 2019

Shri Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Government of India, Udyog Bhawan, New Delhi - 110011

Sir,

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.

Sincerely,

Signatories

Organisations:

Alternative Law Forum

The Bachchao Project (http://thebachchaoproject.org)

CCAOI

Consumer VOICE

The Dialogue

Esya Centre

The Free Software Movement Karnataka

Internet Democracy Project

Internet Freedom Foundation

Internet Society, Delhi Chapter

MediaNama

Point of View

SFLC.in

Concerned citizens:

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

Subhashish Panigrahi

Vikram Vincent, IIT-Bombay

For further communication: Prasanth Sugathan Legal Director, SFLC.in prasanth @sflc.in


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