Consumer rights

Internet transaction invoice, where are you? – Manila Bulletin

Another Consumer Protection Bill for Internet Transactions Could End Up in the 18thand Congress as a pending bill.

The House approved its version of the Internet Transactions Act or HB 7805 on November 20, 2020 on final and third reading. The Senate has yet to begin second reading of its version SB 2489.

I have obtained a copy of the approved version of the House bill and the synopsis of the bill which are partly reprinted here and edited for space.

The synopsis of HB 7805 is as follows:

GOALS:

  • Promote and maintain a robust e-commerce environment in the country and build trust between online platforms, merchants and consumers.
  • Establish effective regulation of commercial activities via the Internet or electronic means to ensure that consumer rights and data privacy are protected, fair advertising practices, competition are encouraged, online transactions are secure, rights intellectual property rights are respected and that product standards and safety are observed.

KEY PROVISIONS:

• Prescribes a code of conduct for all companies engaged in electronic commerce.

• Covers all stages of all business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce and Internet transactions, including those related to the following activities:

a) Internet retail sale of consumer goods and services;

(b) Online travel services;

(c) Online media providers;

(d) ride-hailing services; and

(e) Digital Financial Services.

• Exempts transactions between consumers from the application of this law, without prejudice to the application of other laws.

• Provides foreign entities doing business in the Philippines with three (3) options: (1) they can set up a domestic company or branch in the Philippines; (2) they can appoint a resident agent; or (3) they can notify and submit their contact information to the proposed Electronic Commerce Office.

• Ensures that competition between online and offline commercial activities is respected.

• Creates an Office of Electronic Commerce under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) that will have authority over activities conducted on the Internet that are currently unregulated.

• Establish, manage and maintain an online business register (ROB) which will provide consumers with access to data and information of registered online business entities for the purpose of verifying the validity, existence and other relevant business entity information.

• Specifies the limited liability of online platforms, as follows:

(a) Online platforms are only liable jointly with an online merchant to the consumer to the extent of civil damages suffered by the consumer as a direct result of the transaction.

(b) Online platforms shall only be liable for civil and administrative indemnification with online merchants in the following cases: (1) fails to exercise ordinary diligence; (2) fails to remove goods or services that do not comply with the law; (3) authorizes an unauthorized online merchant to do business in the Philippines.

(c) Online platforms shall not be liable if: (1) relied on the authenticity of any online merchant’s representations, warranties or registration documents, even if such information are subsequently found to be false, provided that the online operator can act in good faith; (2) relied on any online merchant’s representations, warranties, or submissions that it is valid under the laws of the Philippines or complies with applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

• Stipulates the obligations of VTC service providers and VTC service consumers.

• Directs the DTI to lead the establishment of an industry-led e-commerce brand to ensure the safety and security of Internet transactions.

• Authorizes the Secretary of Commerce and Industry to issue an interim order directing a website, webpage, online application, social media account and any other similar platform in violation of this Act, the Consumer Law of the Philippines or any other commerce or consumer laws be abolished, made inaccessible in the Philippines, that no entity process payment to any of such entities, or otherwise be rendered commercially inoperative, to reduce further violations.

• Penalizes online merchants who fail to register as a sole proprietor, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or cooperative with a fine equivalent to one hundred percent (100%) of the amount of digital goods offered or sold online. market price as determined by the Bureau of Electronic Commerce, including forfeiture of advertised goods.

• Penalizes consumers found guilty of breaking the law with a fine of up to fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00), while offending platform operators and online merchants will be fined five one hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to five million pesos (P5,000,000.00) or their licenses will be revoked, at the discretion of the courts.

Consumers hope that the 18and Congress finalizes and enacts the proposed Internet transaction for the President’s approval, lest this Congress be recorded as a failure to promote and strengthen consumer protection.

Atti. Vic Dimagiba, AB, LLB, LLM

President, Laban Konsyumer Inc.

Email to [email protected]

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