CONSUMER PROTECTION IN THE AGE OF E-COMMERCE


E-commerce is a contemporary business methodology that approaches the needs of the industry, traders, and customers to lower costs while enhancing the quality of goods and services and speed of service delivery. The chief. method of e-commerce remains to be the Internet and the World Wide Web, with prevalent use of e-mail, fax and telephone orders. It is the applicability of intelligence and information sharing technology amongst trading associates for achieving their respective business objectives. A fundamental component of e-commerce is information processing. It consists of purchasing and marketing products and services over the Internet. It is a subset of a business's e-business maneuvering.

Oftentimes e-commerce is used to compute revenue streams to a conventional business. Several businesses have become remarkably profitable through online clearances. Dell Computers is a prime example. Diminutive companies and even Individuals can also exchange their products or services on a worldwide foundation through e-commerce. Large companies can subdue sales and stocking costs by selling online.

Now, the business is overwhelmed with numerous e-commerce opportunities for customers to decide. A variation of innovative merchandise and services are being offered to customers as an alternative. In the last couple of years, the growth of online shopping alternatives in India has been phenomenal .as more customers have begun exploring the perks of utilizing this platform. There is ample expanse for online businesses in the future if they understand the Indian customer's psyche and purvey to their needs. Changing the game Indian e-commerce industry has evolved over some time with innovations that have changed the rules of the game globally.

E-commerce is advantageous for numerous reasons. For example, it presents convenient access to merchandise that otherwise may not be available, which is especially relevant in rural areas. It is an effective technique of entering into Transactions, both for customers and e-retailers. Further, e-commerce has made conceivable low-value cross-border businesses on a scale that earlier was unthinkable. To a large degree, e-consumers have the same demands and requirements as traditional customers. However, in many ways, e-consumers are more defenseless as they typically cannot inspect the product before buying it and may not discern from whom they are purchasing. The need for “trust” is even more significant in e-commerce than in offline business. Yet businesses have been unsuccessful at creating confidence in e-commerce, and in many jurisdictions, consumer protection laws continue to be weak. With e-retailers failing to maintain the necessary trust, the law performs a vital role in devising customer trust in e-commerce-trust that will profit businesses, customers, and society. As a consequence, better consumer protection will improve consumer confidence guiding to greater consumerism, which avails the trio associates i.e., businesses, consumers, and society. The procurement of e-commerce was immediate as it offered industrialization of e-commerce, for instance, showcasing products on the web, accepting orders, processing payments online and co-coordinating inventory and distribution activities. The e-commerce industry is likely to evidence an upsurge in online customer foundation new product categories and online retailer to optimize the online shopping expertise. It has been predicted that e-commerce sales will increase at a steady rate of 19 percent year to year. E-Commerce is a progression that accommodated our traditional economy acclimate to the new digital world, using electronic technology through the internet, resulting in more rival(s), more marketplaces, faster transactions, and more venerable technologies to make activities between customers and producers more vibrant. The Internet has revolutionized the economy so much that most of the business ventures now are executed on the web. Hence, besides the government’s responsibility to guard e-consumers, we being customers and internet users are also obligated to keep our e-commerce wholesome and trustworthy so that e-business can be more reliable in the future so that every single person in the world will be able to benefit from e-commerce.

In general, the rights of a consumer as granted by the domestic legislation like Sec. 6 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 in India, are also open to the electronic consumer because no specific specification has been drafted in most of the Consumer laws concerning applicability or non-applicability of electronic businesses. But due to the diversity in the nature and place of business or medium of business few unique functional dilemmas such as a place of business, jurisdictional concerns, non-availability of the collaborative conflict resolution system, as there is every feasibility of cross-frontier transaction in an electronic system (shopping), i.e. the purchaser of one nation purchase from the merchant of another nation or vice-versa etc., are indispensable in the matter of electronic sales or e-commerce, which positively requires appropriate measures that are not provided in the existing consumer legislation. The right of customers and e-consumers though equal in conjecture but varied in execution or satisfaction. Thus, in case of an act of buying and selling of products or services on the virtual electronic world, the buyer is known as e-buyer, the seller is known as e-seller, the retailer is known as e-retailer, the consumer is known as e-consumer and the transaction is known as e-transaction. Due to ease in the transaction, the number of e-consumer is growing at a high rate, and within a very short period, it will defeat physical consumers. Contemplating these viewpoints strong guarding mechanisms are expected to be set up rigorous measures in form of laws required to be framed otherwise it will not only influence the e-consumers but particular Government shall also lose their state revenues.


E-COMMERCE, LAW AND CONSUMER PROTECTION

Legal matters embrace two fields— one of regulation, and the other of making the legal system compatible with e-commerce. The latter, though perceived as being facilitatory in content, expect the former for it to be effective. There are many things that governments might reasonably want to regulate on the Internet. These involve not just serious indignities to human values like child pornography and provocation to racial contempt but also consumer protection, the protection of intellectual property rights, and taxation. These are all concerns on which countries enacted already. The present rules and laws would and should apply to the Internet and e-commerce. The question arising is not whether the Internet should be regulated but how should it be regulated? This completely new sort of communication poses various new sorts of problems for regulators. The Information Technology Act primarily endeavors to address three areas of recognized necessities for the digital era:

· To make e-commerce transactions for —both businesses to business and business to consumer

· To make e-governance transactions—both government to citizen and citizen to government

· To subdue cybercrime and govern the Internet.

Information Technology (Amended) Act, ITAA, was amended in 2008 to enhance the protection of e-commerce businesses, with specific stipulations for statutory identification of digital signatures and electronic documents. Section 43A of ITAA underpins e-commerce companies answerable for the protection of private data. When an e-commerce company fails to protect the personal data of its customers or is negligent in maintaining and implementing reasonable security practices, and if this results in the wrongful loss of an online buyer, the laws are clear that its body corporate is wholly liable to pay the damages utilizing monetary compensation. Under the IT Act regulations, a national controller for enforcing the Act is to be appointed. This controller will monitor the certifying executives that will assign the digital signatures and the systems for authentication. These measures require to be matched by classifying out the concerns of protection and payments.

One of the criticisms leveled against the IT Act is that it does not have any clause ensuring the security and protection of the on-line consumer. Legal evaluation is divided on this subject, with some experts debating that the existing Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is considerably extensive and can be extended to embrace online customers also, online shopping is merely another form of transacting business. Notwithstanding, even if this be the case there are manifold viewpoints eccentric to digital transactions such as electronic payments, confidentiality, trade data, etc. that lead to problems arising in cyberspace. An international consensus on privacy safeguard is developing around the OECD guidelines on the protection of privacy and trans-border flows of private data, which incorporates well-established postulates of favorable information practices.


CONCLUSION:

The whole work whether it is small or big is performed through the internet, online education to shopping everything is momentarily a day’s easily available via the internet. E-commerce is an integrated part of the internet. The evolution of the internet has also led to the growth of e-commerce. It has opened the stage of its rapid expansion. Nearly every genus of business is being administered via the methods of e-commerce. However, it is also a bitter truth that everything which is having a good section also has a bad section. E-commerce is very serviceable but it has also some negative sides. There are various cases of fraud, misrepresentation, etc. because of the use of the internet. Hence several legislations are executed to constrain these hoaxes. In India, we are having a special provision namely Information Technology Act 2001 which implements the enactments principally concerning e-commerce. Apart from the technical (e.g., fast and reliable networks) and regulative (e.g., legal frameworks and standardization) challenges that need to be undertaken, there are plenty of social affairs that also need deliberation. Policymakers must-see Internet application and electronic trade as a social as well as a technical sensation. National conventions need to strengthen strategy, regulative and legislative structures that are versatile, enforceable, to the use of E-Commerce.

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