Concerns for online purchases | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 31, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 31, 2017

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Concerns for online purchases

Due to our busy daily life, we are now-a-days relying on growing online business. Products and services like dress, shoes, food, cosmetics, medicine, electronics, home appliances, car, house etc. can be found on internet to purchase. Availability and multiple options to choose the desired product out of hundreds of required product and having the facility of home delivery service have made people like to shop online rather to go shop physically.

Nonetheless, apart from these facilities, there are some hindrances of online shopping. Specifically, there is no guarantee of the product quality. Anyone can set up e-commerce website and there are many fake websites which can expropriate customers' money. Sometimes, it delays to deliver the goods. Moreover, as it is a common criterion of online shopping that, one must have to give his or her phone number and address which is ones very personal information thus there are more possibilities of abusing of one's personal information and privacy.

In the context of Bangladesh, there are no specific rules or code which will explain how the e-commerce will pursue the contract with the customer. At the same time, how the information and data given to the seller will be protected? In other words, which law will they follow respecting data protection or privacy policy of their valuable customers? We have the Sale of Goods Act 1930, the Consumers' Rights Protection Act 2009 and the Information and Communication Technology Act 2006 which seem to be relevant with the topic on its face. Therefore, in reality, the Sale of Goods Act is designed to ensure that a purchaser receives a certain quality of product and sets out their rights if the product is believed to be sub-standard. In like manner, the Consumers' Rights Protection Act 2009 deals with the offences and punishment if the product is not up to the quality or if the buyer is cheated by the seller.

However, these two laws do not declare it clearly whether its provisions will be applicable to the virtual buyer and seller. Correspondingly, the Information and Communication Technology Act 2006 talks about the offences, investigation, adjudication, and penalties from section 54-67 of under chapter 7 among of which only section 63 deals with the privacy policy that could be used as a protection regarding online shopping.

Altogether, the fact is that, there is no precise code or laws that can be exercised directly by the consumer who faces trouble regarding product quality, service reliability and their personal information security while doing online shopping. Whereas in UK there are four important Acts, directives and laws that one must comply with if he or she is selling goods or services online. They are the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002, the Data Protection Act 1998, the Distance Selling Act 2000, and ICO Cookie Law. Likewise, in Australia, they have Privacy Act 1988 which cover this area.

However, Bangladesh needs to act promptly to protect its citizen from diverse kind of bedevilment through online shopping and in order to facilitate e-commerce and encourage the growth of information technology. In this respect, the government can enact a new law or make provision under existing relevant Acts which will specifically deal with the issues or dispute arise out of e-commerce business. Moreover, government can make a competitive authority which will be responsible to monitor, investigate and dispose the issues in this respect. Similarly, the local people also have to aware about their rights and remedies. They have to encourage seeking legal remedy. The last but not the least, for the protection of customer's private information and data the e-commerce site owners can provide a privacy policy and post it on the e-commerce website which will clearly identify what kinds of personal information it will collect from consumer and how it will use and store that information.

 

The writer is a Student of Masters in Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Dhaka.

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