E-commerce firms to be held liable for sale of illicit products in proposed law

E-commerce platforms, along with parties or merchants engaged in the sale of prohibited digital products, can be held solidarily liable under the proposed Internet Transactions Act, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said.

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Gatchalian said the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) issued a show cause as well as cease and desist orders to Lazada, Shopee, and Facebook Marketplace after advertisements for the sale of SMS blast machines were found available in the sites.

“The reason why we included the joint and solidary liability in Senate Bill No. 1591 is to make these platforms responsible in protecting the interest of the consumers,” Gatchalian, principal author of the bill, said.

Under Section 17 of SB 1591 or the proposed Internet Transactions Act, if the online e-commerce platform knows or should have known that the digital products sold do not comply with the law or if the online merchant is not duly registered with the appropriate regulatory agencies and the online e-commerce platform permits the online merchant to sell digital products, both shall share solidary liability.

The NTC said the sale of text or SMS blaster machines and similar equipment “appears to violate” the Radio Control Law and other regulations such as its Memorandum Order 01-02-2013 or the Prohibition of Portable Cellular Mobile Repeater and Portable Cell Site Equipment.

The bill at hand seeks to protect consumers from unethical, illegal, and unscrupulous business practices of those engaged in e-commerce, Gatchalian explained.

“Online shopping or e-commerce has radically changed the way we live our lives. Whether as a consumer or a seller, technology and the internet have dramatically transformed the way businesses and transactions are conducted,” Gatchalian added.

Hangad natin na mapadali ang mga serbisyong iniaalok sa online ngunit meron at meron pa ring nagsasamantala sa ganitong platform at ito ang nais nating tugunan dito sa panukalang ito,” he said.

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