Amazon may be forced to reveal its closely guarded “source codes and algorithms” if it wants to continue trading in India.
India is working on a new ecommerce policy designed to diminish the dominance of big tech companies like Amazon and Google on its online retail markets.
The proposed legislation, seen by Bloomberg, would mandate government access to these company’s source codes and algorithms to ensure there are no “digitally induced biases” giving them an advantage over smaller local traders.
Should the bill be approved, ecommerce companies will also be required to make data available to the Indian government within 72 hours, including requests for information regarding national security, taxation and law.
Amazon’s algorithms determine which products and sellers appear on the marketplace’s coveted front page of search results, as well as which products are selected to be promoted by labels such as “Amazon Choice”.
The retailer has kept these algorithms and processes a closely guarded secret and they have become a point of controversy among consumer group’s like Which?, which has highlighted the poor quality of some “Amazon Choice” products and questioned how they are selected.
While Amazon and other tech giants are keen to secure their slice of the rapidly expanding Indian ecommerce market, this bill would mark a significant challenge to their dominance and could be imitated more widely if effective.