We at Perry4Law have been receiving numerous legal consultancy requests regarding e-commerce and online gaming industries and their related fields. We are also helping domestic and international e-commerce and online gaming companies in establishing their e-commerce and online gaming websites in India.
While this is a usual phenomenon as e-commerce and online gaming and gambling industry in India is fast maturing. What is unusual is the growing interest among the online gaming and e-commerce websites developers in India to remain on the right side of Indian laws. We have been receiving ever increasing legal consultancy requests from e-commerce and online gaming website developers whether their acts or omissions while building and launching such websites violate any Indian laws or not?
Indian laws prescribe many techno legal requirements that e-commerce and online gaming website developers must comply with before they launch respective websites in India. The legal requirements to start an e-commerce website in India are well known. Still most of the e-commerce websites in India are not following Indian laws. The responsibility of making and launching such websites in a legal manner is collectively shared by both the website developing company as well as the owner of such e-commerce and online gaming website and both of them can be held liable for violating Indian laws.
For instance, the website companies that are building an online poker website in India must keep in mind the online poker laws and regulations in India in general and online gambling laws and regulations in India in particular. Similar rules apply to other online gaming websites that wish to enter into Indian markets. This is not happening presently and the online poker websites in India are heading towards legal troubles.
Even foreign companies are planning to explore Indian markers in various online business fields, including e-commerce. For instance, companies like Facebook, Twitter, etc have already started exploring using their platforms for online businesses. This has raised a host of Indian legal issues that these companies are not following as on date. The Indian income tax liability of companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc would also be questioned before the Indian courts in the near future.
Foreign companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc are Internet intermediaries within the meaning of Information Technology Act, 2000 and they are also required to comply with cyber law due diligence requirements (PDF) in India for having strong virtual and physical contacts in India. Even advertisement revenue is also earned by these companies from Indian activities and targeting Indian residents. Google’s online defamation case and Google’s tax liability case would bring some clarity in these fields.
Even the Indian companies are not very good at meeting the laws of India. Many have poorly implemented the domain name protection strategy and are not very good online brand protection and management in India. Some are even indulging in illegal activities in the name of intellectual property rights and brand protection of entertainment and media industry of India. Similarly, the fields like Bitcoins exchanges, online pharmacies, m-health projects, cloud computing companies, virtualisation service companies, telemedicine, etc are not complying with Indian laws and they may be in legal troubles in the near future.
It would be a fatal mistake on the part of e-commerce and online gaming website developers to ignore Indian laws as they may be equally liable to be prosecuted in many cases for developing and managing such websites. We hope these website developers would fall in line before any of them is prosecuted in India and an example is set for others.