• India
  • Nov 22

Govt to unveil framework to curb fake reviews on e-commerce sites

• The government will soon publish a framework to counter fake reviews and unverified star ratings on e-commerce websites, hotel and travel booking platforms.

• Since e-commerce involves a virtual shopping experience without any opportunity to physically view or examine the product, consumers heavily rely on reviews posted on platforms to see the opinion and experiences of users who have already purchased the goods or services.

• But, fake reviews and star ratings mislead consumers into buying online products and services.

• To check fake reviews, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) has finalised framework after studying the present mechanism being followed by the e-commerce entities in India and best practices available globally.

• The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has also come out with a standard. 

• The framework will be titled Indian Standard (IS) 19000:2022 ‘Online Consumer Reviews — Principles and Requirements for their Collection, Moderation and Publication. 

• The standards will be applicable to every online platform which publishes consumer reviews.

• The standard will initially be voluntary for compliance by all e-commerce platforms. 

• BIS will also develop a Conformity Assessment Scheme for the standard to assess compliance. 

• The standard is expected to benefit all stakeholders in the e-commerce ecosystem — consumers, e-commerce platforms, sellers, etc. 

• It will help usher in confidence among consumers to purchase goods online and help them make better purchase decisions.

Key points of the framework:

• The guiding principles of the standard are integrity, accuracy, privacy, security, transparency, accessibility and responsiveness. 

• The standard prescribes specific responsibilities for the review author and the review administrator. For review author, these include confirming acceptance of terms and conditions, providing contact information and for review administrator, these include safeguarding personal information and training of staff.

• Once made mandatory, if required, the violation of the standards by any entity may be considered as an unfair trade practice or violation of consumer rights and a consumer may submit such grievances to the National Consumer Helpline, Consumer Commissions or the CCPA.

• The standard provides for responsibilities of organisation including developing a code of practice, and necessary stipulations for terms and conditions like accessibility, criteria, and ensuring content does not contain financial information, etc.

• The standard also provides for methods for verification of review author through email address, identification by telephone call or SMS, confirming registration by clicking on a link, using captcha system, etc to check traceability and genuineness of the review author.

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