Philippines Senate Approves the Internet Transactions Act to Enhance Online Trade Regulation
The Internet Transactions Act Gets Senate Approval
The Philippines Senate has given its approval to the proposed Internet Transactions Act, a legislation aimed at providing the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) with increased powers to regulate online transactions. The primary objective of this act is to protect consumers and ensure an equitable and secure digital trading landscape.
Enhanced Regulation and Oversight Powers
The act empowers the DTI Secretary to issue takedown orders for websites, social media accounts, or online applications that are found to be engaged in illegal activities or selling deceptive goods and services. A provisional takedown order can be issued if a digital product is deemed potentially harmful, or if the seller has a history of law violation.
Ensuring Authenticity in Digital Transactions
The proposed legislation stipulates that all goods and services transacted digitally must be as advertised. Penalties will be levied on online merchants or platforms that violate these rules, including those offering non-financial goods or services that contravene trade or consumer protection laws. The act applies to all business-to-business and business-to-consumer internet transactions.
Code of Conduct for Online Businesses
The act also necessitates online businesses to adhere to a code of conduct, designed to safeguard consumer interests and prevent fraudulent transactions. The code includes providing complete and correct information on sales invoices or receipts, and the prohibition of hidden charges or additional costs, such as customs duties or currency conversion charges.
Establishment of an E-commerce Bureau
The proposed Internet Transactions Act calls for the establishment of an e-commerce bureau under the DTI. The bureau would oversee online activities and maintain an online business registry of all internet merchants, thereby aiding the public in verifying information related to internet transactions.
Progress of the Legislation
The House of Representatives had already passed a similar measure, House Bill 4, in December 2022. The proposed Internet Transactions Act is one of the 20 priority bills that the current administration seeks to be passed before December 2023. This legislative move signals a significant step towards a more regulated and secure digital trading environment in the Philippines.
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