According to the secretary, it must be ensured that the major players treat consumers fairly in terms of privacy and choices.

With the soaring growth in online commerce, Consumer Affairs Minister Rohit Kumar Singh stressed on Tuesday that there should be no monopoly for major e-commerce players such as Amazon and Flipkart, and that a new framework must be put in place to protect consumers as well as small retailers.

Speaking at an event celebrating World Consumer Rights Day, he said that the government has recently introduced UPI (Unified Payment Interface) to feature phones and that it will lead to an exponential increase in digital payments and e-commerce.

He said a new framework should be put in place to protect consumers from unfair commercial practices.

Singh stressed that the size of e-commerce players such as Amazon and Flipkart will continue to grow and emphasized the need to protect consumers from a possible monopolistic situation.

On the sidelines of the event, the secretary said the symmetry between consumers and suppliers is favoring intermediaries (marketplaces).

“As more and more people trade in the market, the power equation of consumers will be taxed in favor of intermediaries. So we will have saved them from that. The choices I get become increasingly dependent on the market. So we want it to be fair,” he added.

Singh emphasized the independence of the algorithm, noting that the European Union has very strict rules about it, as marketplaces are required to specify the basis on which search results are displayed for each product.

He also spoke about the importance of privacy of a consumer’s data.

“We should not have a situation that leads to monopolies,” the secretary said, adding that consumers and small retailers should be protected.

Singh stressed that the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Department of Promotion, Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) are developing ONDC (Open Network of Digital Commerce), an interconnected system for all e-commerce platforms.

“The vision is to provide and facilitate neutrality,” he said, adding that the basics of search results should be clear to consumers.

The secretary said digital e-commerce would continue to exist and care must be taken to ensure that the major players treat consumers fairly in terms of privacy and choices.

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