Problems of Social E-Commerce and Suggestions on Regulation by Law
[Beijing Direct News Network, August 5] (CCTV Network)In recent two years, in sharp contrast to the weak development of traditional e-commerce, social e-commerce is rapidly rising, with more than 4,000 sellers gathered in the first "shake-up business" conference held in Hangzhou.
Accordingly, the problems of social e-commerce have also aroused widespread concern in society.
Consumers are unsatisfied with the products and can't find sellers if they want to return them; many social E-commerces such as microstores and peanut diaries are suspected of pyramid selling and punished; Shanzhai goods such as "vivi mobile phones" and "sunrise laundry powder" are repeatedly exposed. The Electronic Commerce Law has been put into effect for half a year. There is no consensus among all circles of society on basic legal issues such as whether sellers on social e-commerce platforms belong to e-commerce operators, whether they need to deal with business licenses, whether social platforms bear the legal responsibilities of e-commerce platform operators, and so on. The need for law enforcement is urgent and persistent. The contradiction between insufficient understanding of law and insufficient practice of law enforcement needs to be solved urgently.
The Problems of Social E-Commerce from the Perspective of Market Supervision
The unknown identity of sellers makes it difficult to safeguard consumer rights. Recently, a self-Media article brushed the screen on the Internet. The author said that he spent 198 yuan on a short video social networking platform to buy a bag of 250 grams of roast shrimp with net content, but received "three products without products". When he was ready to complain to the government, he found that he could not find the record of commodity transaction and the seller had not obtained the food license. In fact, such incidents are a common problem in the current social e-commerce industry: some sellers operate without qualifications required by law, or fail to publicize qualifications information or natural person identity information according to regulations; some sellers'commodity display, placing orders, payment and other links are all in the third place outside the control of the platform. Some sellers'traffic entries are links shared by information stream advertisements and Weixin friends. These entries are very unstable and may be deleted or offline at any time. It is very difficult for consumers to find these links again afterwards, and they are also likely to be unable to open them.
The "fission" business model may be suspected of pyramid selling. Social e-commerce widely adopts the "fission" business model: bargaining through sharing commodity links with friends, receiving preferential red envelopes, getting commissions directly and so on. This model often adopts the mode of "multi-level distribution", and may even have the characteristics of "pulling people's heads", "paying entry fees" and "paying at different levels", which are suspected of violating the relevant provisions of the Regulations on Prohibiting Pyramid Marketing. In May 2017, the Hangzhou High-tech Development Zone Market Regulatory Bureau found that the microstores in Yunji had violated Article 7 of the Regulations on Prohibiting Pyramid Marketing, constituting pyramid selling, and imposed a fine of 9.58 million yuan on them. In March 2019, the peanut diary was fined 74.5658 million yuan by the Guangzhou Bureau of Industry and Commerce for violating this provision.
The problems of counterfeiting and fake and inferior products are more prominent. An important way for social e-commerce to rapidly "fission" is to sell at a low price. However, low prices are often accompanied by counterfeiting and shoddy products, and such complaints are growing almost as fast as their sales. In July 2018, with the successful listing of a social e-commerce in the United States in Shanghai, the public's concern about the sale of counterfeit and infringed goods reached its peak. On August 1, 2018, the General Administration of Market Supervision responded that it had asked Shanghai's market regulatory authorities to interview it.
So what is the legal nature of each participant in social e-commerce?
The legal nature of commodity sellers and service providers. Article 2, paragraph 2, of the Electronic Commerce Law stipulates that the term "electronic commerce" in this Law refers to the business activities of selling goods or providing services through information networks such as the Internet. Obviously, the commodity sellers and service providers in social e-commerce (commonly known as "sellers") are all "selling goods or providing services through information networks such as the Internet". To judge whether they belong to e-commerce operators and whether they are applicable to the E-commerce Law, the key is whether they engage in business activities. According to the Interpretation of the Provisions of Electronic Commerce Law drafted and compiled by the Electronic Commerce Law, business activities refer to continuous business activities aimed at making profits. In my opinion, we can judge comprehensively from the following aspects in the practice of law enforcement: whether to use the existing social tools or to build special groups, add strangers as friends, set up special modules or functions; whether to sell second-hand goods, agricultural products, handicrafts or wholesale goods; whether to sell through multi-level or not. Distribution and other ways to form a special team; the number of transactions, amount, duration; whether the platform signed business agreements, forming a more stable relationship; whether to pay commissions, advertising and other fees to the platform. Generally speaking, those who set up special business modules or functions, sell wholesale commodities, trade in large quantities, trade in large amounts and for a long time, form a stable relationship with the platform or even pay fees should be identified as e-commerce operators, otherwise they should not be identified as e-commerce operators.