A MEASURE creating an Electronic Commerce Bureau to regulate online transactions between businesses has hurdled the House Committee on Trade and Industry.

“This bill seeks to regulate all business-to-business and business-to-consumer commercial transactions conducted over the internet,” Valenzuela Representative Weslie T. Gatchalian, who chairs the panel, said in a statement Monday.

The bill covers internet retail, online travel, online media, ride-hailing services and digital financial services. Mr. Gatchalian noted that consumer-to-consumer transactions will not be covered.

He also clarified the bureau will only deal with activities conducted online that are not yet regulated. “Any regulation of the eCommerce Bureau that may affect regulated industries shall only be ancillary to the government agency or instrumentality exercising primary jurisdiction over that specific activity.”

The measure requires e-Commerce platform operators to ensure the online merchants have the proper registration documents and have disclosed their business address and contact details. This information must be reflected in their official websites.

The bill penalizes online merchants who fail to register either as sole proprietorships, one-person corporations, partnerships, corporations or cooperatives, and subjects them to fines equivalent to 100% of the value of the goods sold online.

Online platforms failing to show registered online sellers, their addresses and contact numbers, and a clear breakdown of prices are liable for fines of between P500,000 and P5 million. — Charmaine A. Tadalan