China's new e-commerce law shifts responsibility to websites

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/9/2 20:48:39

Law shifts responsibility to e-commerce sites


The e-commerce law newly passed by the legislators will "make the fence tighter" against unethical sales practice on the internet, though it is unlikely to eliminate such problems as fake products, a technology analyst told the Global Times on Sunday.

The top lawmakers on Friday passed a law that requires domestic e-commerce websites to guarantee that consumers' rights are protected in online business transactions, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

For example, the new law stipulates that if a consumer suffers from health problems as a result of a product bought online, e-commerce platforms will be held accountable if they didn't properly audit the business qualifications of the sellers on the platform.

E-commerce website operators also have the obligation to record and store product/service information as well as transaction information on their platforms. They should also guarantee that this information is kept secret, complete and feasible.

Domestic e-commerce platforms are also required to set up a convenient and efficient reporting and complaint mechanism for customers.

Liu Dingding, an independent technology analyst, said that the government in the past had launched measures to guarantee the safety of certain items sold online, like medicine.

"Now it is launching a new law to make those measures more focused and more clear. The fence (against reckless selling) is tighter," he said.

"In the past, e-commerce platforms developed fast but recklessly. Now the government wants the sector to develop in a healthier way," Liu said. 

Problems like fake products and difficult reporting channels are perplexing domestic consumers, even on some well-known e-commerce platforms in China in recent years , according to domestic media reports.

But Liu said that e-commerce platforms that follow the Platform Open Plan model like taobao.com and pinduoduo.com don't provide warehouses for the products, so problems such as fakes are unlikely to disappear.

"But stricter regulation can help improve such flaws," he said.

The e-commerce law will take effect at the beginning of 2019, according to the Xinhua report.


Newspaper headline: Law shifts responsibility to e-commerce sites


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