BEIJING, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- China's top legislature Friday passed a revision to the law on consumer rights and interests, the first since the legislation was adopted in 1993.
A total of 150 members of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) voted for the bill while two opposed and one abstained at its bi-monthly session, which closed here Friday. The bill has had three readings since April.
The revision -- regulations on online shopping and liabilities of businesses -- came as China focuses on domestic consumption as an engine of growth.
One reason for the revision is to boost consumers confidence, said Jia Dongming, head of civil law under the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee.
"If people feel secure and are more inclined to spend, that means more revenue, more profit and domestic demand will expand. The whole country will benefit," Jia said, at a press conference after the session.
Although the law has protected customers' rights and maintained market order for two decades, there have been dramatic changes in the way people shop and the idea of consumption, he said.
The revised law addresses the latest changes, such as online shopping and consumer privacy, but deals with perennial problems like the difficulties an individual customer faces claiming their rights, he added.
Prof. Liu Junhai, of the Law School at Renmin University of China, told Xinhua that the revised law strikes a balance between consumers and business as well as between justice and efficiency.
"I believe that the new law will help build a consumer-friendly society and have significant transformational effect on growth, while promoting stability and harmony," he said.
The revised law will take effect on March 15, World Consumer Rights Day.
One of the freshest elements of the revision is about e-commerce. The revised law for the first time regulates merchandise and service transactions through the Internet, television, phone and post.
In the first three quarters of the year, online retailing grossed 1.3 trillion yuan (210 billion U.S. dollars) in China, which is equal to last year's annual figure and up from 26.3 billion yuan in 2006, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
The new law allows e-shoppers to unconditionally return goods for refunds within seven days of transaction but requires them to pay logistics costs.
It also lists products not suitable for unconditional returns and refunds, such as digital products sold via downloads, audio-visual goods with the packaging removed, bespoke products, fresh and perishable goods, magazines, newspapers and software.
Consumers can seek compensation from online trading platforms if the platforms do not to provide valid contact details for vendors using their networks. In turn, the platforms are entitled to claim compensation from the vendors.
Misuse consumers' personal information has also emerged as a big problem.
"This revision has strict regulations on how operators should collect and use personal information and what punishment offenders will receive," said Liu Junchen, deputy director of the State Administration for Industry & Commerce, also at the press conference.
The new law requires business owners to obtain consumers' consent and explicitly explain the purpose, form and scope of information use before collecting and using personal information. They are banned from leaking, selling or illegally providing the information while being asked to adopt necessary technical measures to ensure security of such data.
To implement the law, leaking consumers' personal information will become a category of complaint and cooperation will be stepped up between the police and the ministries of commerce and information technology, Liu said.