Chinese Legislators Worry New E-Commerce Law Could Hurt Consumer Safety
A proposed change to the law governing online sales in China has raised concerns that it may not do enough to hold e-commerce companies accountable for harm to consumers.
China’s e-commerce industry has developed rapidly in recent years, and there have been growing calls for the country to implement laws that specifically address the sector. Work began on e-commerce legislation in 2013, and the first draft of the new civil code’s e-commerce section was first debated by the NPC in late 2016.
The fourth draft of the e-commerce section of China’s new civil code, which is expected to take effect by 2020, weakens language that applies to companies. If a customer is harmed by an e-commerce platform, the company may face “supplementary liability.” This is lesser responsibility than the “joint liability” in previous drafts. The change was made after a period of public and industry input that started in June.
The proposal attracted criticism from within the National People’s Congress, which is currently reviewing the civil code, especially given the recent high-profile killing involving a user of mobile ride-hailing platform Didi.
On Friday, a woman was raped and killed by a driver using Didi’s Hitch ride-sharing service in China’s eastern Zhejiang province, prompting public outrage over Didi’s failure to take action on previous complaints about the driver. The Chinese government has blamed Didi for allowing “major management loopholes and security risks” in its operations, and said the company has “unshirkable responsibility” for the passenger’s death.
NPC Standing Committee member Xu Xianming said during a debate session late Tuesday that the change to the civil code was a “regression” in terms of consumer protection. China’s e-commerce companies mostly act as marketplaces connecting buyers and sellers of goods and services, rather than selling directly to consumers. Under the new wording the law did not give consumers the option to sue the e-commerce platform directly in the event that they incurred losses or were harmed while using the platform’s services. Instead, consumers would only be able to sue individual merchants on the platform, Xu said.
Fellow Standing Committee member and Renmin University professor, Zheng Gongcheng, said the law should include additional provisions to ensure that e-commerce platforms, which include those like Didi that sell services through apps, improve the consumer feedback and complaint mechanisms.
“Someone complained the day before about the driver who killed the woman, but it wasn’t dealt with,” Zheng said, referring to the recent killing of the Didi passenger. “Then, the next day, the victim’s friend made another complaint, and the police also asked for the driver’s information, but they received either no response or only an automated response, which shows that the e-commerce platform’s complaint and feedback mechanism isn’t robust.”
Contact reporter Teng Jing Xuan (email@example.com)
Apr 19 23:01
Apr 19 18:07
Apr 19 17:18
Apr 19 15:49
Apr 19 14:47
Apr 19 12:01
Apr 19 11:31
Apr 19 02:45
Apr 18 17:03
Apr 18 12:54
Apr 18 10:19
Apr 18 03:26
Apr 18 02:59
Apr 18 02:21
Apr 18 02:32
- 1MSCI Postpones China Index Transition for Nearly Six Months
- 2Incident in Shandong Pharmaceutical Plant Kills 10
- 3JD Logistics Might Go Bust in Two Years if Losses Continue, Founder Says
- 4Jack Ma and Richard Liu Voice Support for Intense ‘996’ Work Culture – and People Are Not Happy About It
- 5‘Avengers: Endgame’ Has Made 400 Million Yuan in China – And It’s Not Even Out Yet
- 1Power To The People: Pintec Serves A Booming Consumer Class
- 2Largest hotel group in Europe accepts UnionPay
- 3UnionPay mobile QuickPass debuts in Hong Kong
- 4UnionPay International launches premium catering privilege U Dining Collection
- 5UnionPay International’s U Plan has covered over 1600 stores overseas