02 Oct Perspectives on Regulating Internet Businesses: The Internet Transactions Act
On October 1, 2020, Disini Law, in partnership with the Digital Freedom Network, hosted a webinar entitled Perspectives on Regulating Internet Businesses: The Internet Transactions Act as part of the webinar series Digital Transformation Thursdays. This episode discussed several bills pending in Congress that are collectively referred to as the “Internet Transactions Act.” These bills aim to provide government agencies sufficient powers to protect Philippine consumers and to ensure a level playing field for Philippine entrepreneurs.
The first speaker, Atty. Oliver Reyes, is a Policy Officer at the UP Law Center Technology, Law, and Policy Program. He briefly discussed House Bill No. 6122 and Senate Bill No. 1591, two pending bills that govern E-Commerce. Atty. Reyes highlighted some salient concepts found in the bills, such as the idea of holding foreign players liable as long as they are purposefully availing of the Philippine market, as well as the idea of holding online E-Commerce platforms solidarily liable with the online merchants.
The next speaker, Atty. Lars Serzo, a Senior Associate at Disini Law, further tackled the provisions of the Internet Transactions Act. According to her, “[T]he main policy goal of the ITA really is to drive the internet economy in the Philippines and serve as a catalyst for, as I said, the surge of the internet economy driven by the growth, hopefully, of more digital platforms and E-Commerce platforms.” She outlined some provisions in the pending bills and in existing laws that are relevant to online merchants and online consumers alike.
Finally, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Assistant Secretary (ASEC) Mary Jean Pacheco discussed the Internet Transactions Act from the point of view of a government regulatory agency, specifically the DTI. ASEC Pacheco reiterated the prime directive of DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, which is to “build trust between online sellers and online consumers.” According to her, DTI fully supports the Internet Transactions Act for several reasons, especially because of its creation of an E-Commerce Bureau. Having an E-Commerce Bureau, ASEC Pacheco said, would be helpful in addressing gaps in the legislation.
For his parting word, Atty. Reyes reminded the listeners that the key with the Internet Transactions Act, as with other internet-related regulations, is flexibility. He reiterated that legislation should provide agencies with a “sufficient structure in order [for them] to be able to have the flexibility to address regulatory issues as they emerge.” Likewise, ASEC Pacheco and Atty. JJ Disini encouraged the viewers to actively participate in and contribute to the E-Commerce policy making process.
The recording of this session can be viewed on the Disini Law Facebook page. To know more about the upcoming Digital Transformation Thursdays webinars, visit https://dtt.ph/.