Digital Platform Service Operation to Be Regulated

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Digital Platform Service Operation to Be Regulated

With the rise of modern technology and the spread of COVID-19, businesses are increasingly turning to online platforms as a way to operate without needing to travel. These platforms cover a wide range of services, such as online marketplaces, social commerce and food delivery. In general, terms of use imposed by service operators should be transparent with their users. They should provide clear information about their policies, pricing, data usage and other relevant information. They should also give users the opportunity to make decisions about how their data is used and how they are served by the service. This will ensure that users are aware of how their data is being used and that they are not being taken advantage of.

The regulation of digital platform services to be imposed by the government should be based on a set of fair and transparent rules that are applicable to all parties. These rules should ensure the safety of users, ensure data privacy and security, protect against anti-competitive practices and ensure that the user experience is not compromised. Additionally, government should take an active role in monitoring the digital platform services and enforcing these regulations, as well as providing a framework for dispute resolution between users, companies and government.

The regulation should also consider the innovative nature of digital platform services and allow room for experimentation and innovation. Additionally, the government should also provide incentives for companies to innovate and create new services. This will ensure that digital platform services remain competitive and continue to innovate in order to provide the best user experience possible.

As for Thailand, the Royal Decree on Supervision of Digital Platform Services Operation Requiring a Notification (“Royal Decree”) was announced on 23 December 2022 and will be effective 240 days after the announcement (i.e., 20 August 2023) in order to govern this matter.

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Digital Platform Services shall refer to the provision of electronic platform services as a medium with data management that connects Digital Platform Service Operators (“Platform Operator”), consumers or users via a computer network in order to enable electronic transactions, whether or not a service charge is charged. Digital Platform Service under this Royal Decree excludes the Digital Platform Services that are intended to be used to offer such Platform Operator’s or its affiliates’ goods or services, regardless of whether such goods or services are offered to third parties or its affiliates.

The Platform Operator under the Royal Decree must report its operations to the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (“ETDA”) and examples of qualifications are as follows:

  1. A natural person who operates digital platform service in Thailand and earns more than 1,800,000 THB per year or more than 50,000,000 THB if the Platform Operator is a legal entity; and
  2. Digital platform service with average monthly users in Thailand over 5,000 users.

As the Royal Decree’s main objective is to protect consumers within Thailand, regardless of Platform Operators operating outside of Thailand, this Royal Decree determines that the digital platform services that operate outside Thailand and provide services with one of the following characteristics shall be deemed to provide services to users in Thailand, namely, (1) Thai language digital platforms,  (2) digital platforms with the domain name “.th” or “.ไทย” (3) digital platforms that accept payment in Thai baht, (4) Digital platforms governed by laws of Thailand and subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of Thailand and others as specified in this Royal decree.

Platform Operators who will operate digital platform services must report the following information and evidence to ETDA:

  1. Platform Operator’s information such as name, surname or legal entity’s name, identification number or company registration number, address, accounting period and contact channel;
  2. Digital platform service information such as platform’s name, type of the platform, platform service channel (i.e., URL or application), value of transaction made on digital platform service (if any), etc.; and
  3. Users’ information such as user type (i.e. person who offers goods or services to consumer through digital platform service, customers and etc.), the total number of user and the total amount for each type of user, service provider’s information (i.e. freight forwarder and warehouse service provider), the total number of service provider and the total amount for each type of service provider, information and type of complaint, along with the handling of the complaint and the settlement of such dispute, the information of representative in Thailand (for the Platform Operator who operates inside Thailand) and the Platform Operator’s consent to for ETDA to access such reported information.

The Platform Operator will be issued a registered receipt and will be able to begin operating the digital platform services once ETDA receives the aforementioned report and evidence. Any major change must be reported to ETDA within 30 days as specified in this Royal Decree. Furthermore, ETDA will provide a channel for publicizing the digital platform services’ list and status (for example, the current list of Platform Operators and those whose receipt has been revoked). Please note that the information and evidence listed above must be reported annually within 60 days from the end of the calendar year (Natural Person Platform Operator) or fiscal year (Legal Entity Platform Operator).

Platform Operators may also be required to provide users with terms and conditions of service, assess risk, prepare risk management measure, system security measure, mitigation measure and other duties as specified in the Royal Decree in order to compensate or remedy those damaged by the use of digital platform services. Plus, the ETDA shall consider announcing the rules, procedures and conditions governing the period for business termination, the transfer of digital platform services to another licensee, the management and collection of data relating to digital identity proofing and authentication and any other matters deemed appropriate in order to prevent damage, protect users and ensure that users can use the services continuously.

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Platform Operators whose qualifications are required to report ETDA may continue to operate their businesses only if they report their digital platform business operations to ETDA within 90 days of the Royal Decree’s effective date. On the other hand, those who wish to discontinue such operations must notify ETDA within 90 days of the Royal Decree’s effective date as well.

There are also other details regarding the types of digital platform services, duties and various procedures which should be studied further by Platform Operators. Please note that if any law specifically governs over a specific type of digital platform services, the Platform Operator must comply with such law only if it practices in accordance with and in a manner that does not fall below the provisions of this Royal Decree.

Author: Panisa Suwanmatajarn, Managing Partner.