Toral: Promoting e-commerce, protecting consumers, with the Internet Transactions Act

Jannette Toral.
Jannette Toral.File

Republic Act 11967, also known as the Internet Transactions Act, was signed into law on Dec. 5, 2023, by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. It aims to protect online consumers and merchants engaged in internet transactions while promoting the adoption of digital commerce in the Philippines.

The Act establishes the E-Commerce Bureau (ECB) under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which is responsible for formulating policies, ensuring the registration of digital platforms and online merchants, and protecting the interests of online consumers and merchants. Some of the key provisions include the following:

Consumers have the right to access information about the products or services they are purchasing, including details about the seller, product descriptions and prices. They have the right to seek redress for any issues or disputes related to Internet transactions through the ECB.

Both local and foreign digital platforms and online merchants are obligated to register with the ECB.

The Act imposes liabilities on electronic marketplaces and digital platforms, making them subsequently liable with an online merchant to the consumer for the damages suffered as a direct result of the transaction. They may also be held civilly and administratively liable for failure to comply with the obligations set forth by the code of conduct.

Penalties may be imposed on both natural and juridical entities that violate the Act and all rules, regulations, and standards promulgated. The penalties may include a fine ranging from P50,000 to P500,000, and may also include suspension or revocation of permits issued.

The Act is aligned with the E-Commerce Law (RA 8792), which was enacted on June 14, 2000. RA 8792 paved the way for the greater recognition of e-commerce in the country, allowing for the recognition of electronic contracts under Philippine law, thereby establishing the groundwork for electronic transactions in the country.

In its role as the creator of the ECB, RA 11967 also complements the Data Privacy Law (RA 10173) by promoting electronic transactions, which can facilitate compliance with data privacy regulations. Also, it is encouraging online merchants and platforms to adopt secure data storage and transmission practices, thereby protecting personal information.

RA 11967 also aligns with the Anti-Cybercrime Law (RA 10175). By promoting fair business practices, it helps create a secure environment for online transactions, which in turn reduces the chances of cybercrime. The ECB plays a role in raising awareness of individuals on cyber risks and building a cybersecurity-educated society.

The Internet Transactions Act claims to make the country embrace digital commerce by helping uphold fair business practices. It is expected to contribute to the economic growth and development of the digital economy in the Philippines by fostering innovation, instituting effective mechanisms for dispute resolution, and protecting the interests of online consumers and merchants.

Congratulations to the DTI, Assistant Secretary Jean Pacheco, public and private sector e-commerce leaders and advocates, consumer groups, legislators, and Ludy Yaptinchay (who pushed for ECB creation in its early days) for finally seeing this law as a reality.


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