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Internet transactions bill reaches Senate plenary

The proposed Internet Transactions Act was sponsored in the Senate plenary on Tuesday.

Senator Mark Villar, chairperson of the committee on trade, introduced Senate Bill 1846 which seeks to ensure that all goods and services transacted digitally will be as advertised, and that e-commerce transactions be reliable, secure, and accessible to all consumers.

Villar said the most notable provision of SB 1846 is stated under Section 26, which sets the liability of e-marketplaces and other digital platforms.

The bill imposes penalties against e-marketplaces, e-retailers, online merchants, and digital platforms that violate consumer acts, and violators of certain provisions may face up to P1 million in fines.

The bill also establishes a code of conduct for e-commerce businesses and creates an e-commerce bureau under the Department of Trade and Industry, which will have the authority over activities conducted over the internet that are currently unregulated.

According to the bill, the e-commerce bureau would empower the DTI secretary to issue take-down orders and to make a website, a webpage, a social media account, advertisements and similar digital platforms inaccessible to the Philippines if the goods, services, or digital products advertised are "imminently injurious, unsafe or dangerous to the public."

The e-commerce bureau will also establish and manage an online business registry to keep all records of all internet merchants, so that the public will be able to verify information regarding internet transactions.

The counterpart of this bill was passed by the House of Representatives in December.

In his first State of the Nation Address, Marcos asked Congress to enact the E-Commerce Law which will "establish an effective regulation of commercial activities through the internet or electronic means to ensure that consumer rights and data privacy are protected, innovation is encouraged, fair advertising practices and competition are promoted, online transactions are secured, intellectual property rights are protected, and product standards and safety are observed." — BM, GMA Integrated News