Centre unveils norms to curb fake reviews on e-commerce sites | India News

NEW DELHI: From November 25, all e-commerce players, travel and ticketing portals, and online food delivery platforms will have to voluntarily disclose all paid or sponsored reviews about the products and services offered on their portals, as per the government’s newly framed standard on online reviews. Such entities also can’t publish reviews that have been “purchased” or “written by people employed for this purpose”.
The government on Monday unveiled the new standard on “Online Consumer Reviews” and ratings made by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in its bid to curb the menace of fake and deceptive reviews of products and services. This will be applicable even for independent third-party entities that post such reviews on any online platform.
Cautioning that failure to comply with the BIS standard will amount to unfair trade practice and action can be taken against such entities as per the Consumer Protection Act, Union consumer affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said, “We don’t want to bulldoze the industry. We want to take the standard route. We will first see voluntary compliance and then, if the menace continues to grow, we may make it mandatory in the future. The government always has that option.”
He added that representatives of all big players, including technology majors like Google and Meta, were part of the committee that came up with the final standard and so they are confident of high compliance as fake reviews also hurt the industry.
With the notification of the standard, India will be the first country in the world to have such a norm for Online Consumer Reviews, Singh said.
He added that the BIS will come up with a conformity assessment scheme in the next 15 days to certify the websites hosting such reviews. The websites will display the certification from BIS for consumers information.
He further said, “The focus of the new standard is adequate disclosure. The online platforms have to specify the period when the reviews were collected so that consumers are not misled…There are websites in countries like Turkey and Moldova where there is a business of fake reviews. So these companies pay money and get reviews. If this is happening, that cannot take place.” Chief commissioner of the Central Consumer Protection Authority Nidhi Khare said such purchased reviews are nothing else than “fraud reviews”.
Online reviews have greater influence on consumers mainly in three sectors — tour and travel, restaurant and eateries, and consumer durables.
As per the new standard, the BIS has defined reviews as solicited and unsolicited. The person responsible for handling the review in any organisation will be called the review administrator. The new standard gives an option for the reviewers to withdraw their reviews too.

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