THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) endorsed the immediate passage of the proposed Internet Transactions Act, saying that it will help protect online consumers.
“We need the Internet Transactions Act passed. We hope its enactment can be fast tracked,” Trade Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo said in a statement on Wednesday.
According to the DTI, the proposed law seeks to establish an online business registry and promote the use of the e-commerce Philippine trustmark, both designed to inspire confidence in e-commerce transactions.
“The trustmark will be given to merchants that uphold the rights of consumers and practice responsible business,” the DTI said.
The measure is contained in House Bill No. 4, which hurdled the House of Representatives on third reading in December. Senate Bill No. 1846, its equivalent in the other chamber, is awaiting sponsorship and debate.
In June, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. certified Senate Bill No. 1846 as urgent, citing the need to better regulate e-commerce transactions and upgrade consumer protections.
The proposed law will also classify persons involved in e-commerce serving the Philippine market as conducting business within the country, making them subject to applicable laws and regulations.
Aside from expanded coverage, the proposed Internet Transactions Act will also authorize the Trade Secretary to order the takedown of any website, online application, social media account, or other platforms for a maximum of 30 days if found guilty of violating the law.
“With the increase in inquiries and concerns about online transactions, the DTI reminds businesses and online sellers that consumer protection laws apply to brick-and-mortar and online stores,” it said.
Last year, the DTI’s Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) logged 27,947 complaints, of which 44% of 12,170 involved online transactions. Of these, 2,484 were resolved while 9,093 were referred to other agencies, 394 were withdrawn, and 199 were endorsed for further action.
The FTEB also fielded complaints involving online scams like the use of fake identities to impersonate legitimate merchants, unregistered sales promotions, malicious online shopping sites, and pyramid schemes. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave