Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Senate passes proposed Internet Transactions Act on final reading

The Senate approved on Monday, Sept. 25, on third and final reading the proposed Internet Transactions Act (ITA) with a vote of 20-1-0.

Senate Bill 1846 seeks to ensure that all goods and services transacted digitally will be as advertised. The bill also ensures that e-commerce transactions will be reliable, secure, and accessible to all consumers.

Sen. Mark Villar, sponsor of the proposed measure, thanked his colleagues for passing the measure, which is one of the 20 priority bills that the administration hopes to be passed before December 2023.

“Today, we achieved the approval of the ITA on its third reading, a great feat for ITA which has been pending in this chamber since the 18th Congress,” Villar said.

In a nutshell, SB 1846 shall hold digital platforms or e-marketplaces liable, along with the online merchant or retailer, if they fail to perform their responsibilities as laid down in the bill and cause damage to the consumer.

The proposed measure sets penalties for e-marketplace, e-retailer, online merchant, or digital platforms that sell illegal digital products, ranging from P50,000 to P100,000 for the first offense to P500,000 to P1.5 million for the third and subsequent offenses.

The proposed law also establishes a code of conduct for all companies involved in e-commerce in order to safeguard and advance consumer interests.

The bill will also pave the way for the creation of an e-commerce bureau under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which will oversee Internet-based activities that presently lack regulation.

To help the public verify information on internet transactions, the e-commerce bureau is tasked to establish and manage an online business registry of all internet merchants.

Furthermore, the proposed Internet Transactions Act will empower the DTI secretary by giving it authority to issue take-down orders that will render digital platforms inaccessible in the country if the goods, services, or digital products advertised are found to be “imminently injurious, unsafe or dangerous to the public.”

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