The Centre on Friday cautioned edtech firms against misleading ads, and said that if self-regulation will not curb unfair trade practices, it may look at formulating stringent guidelines.

The Department of Consumer Affairs held a meeting with the India Edtech Consortium (IEC), which runs under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The meeting chaired by DoCA secretary Rohit Kumar was attended by representatives of upGrad, BYJU’s, Unacadamey, Vedantu, Great Learning, WhiteHat Jr. And Sunstone.

This comes at a time when the annual complaints report by the Advertising Standards Council of India revealed that the education sector attracted the maximum number of complaints of misleading ads.

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“During the meeting, issues pertaining to unfair trade practices and misleading advertisement for the Indian Edtech Sector figured prominently. The Secretary discussed ways to better manage consumer interests across India’s Edtech ecosystem,” the statement added.

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The Secretary pointed out that certain ads and practices do not seem to conform to the existing guidelines and regulations and therefore it is imperative to develop robust checkpoints in the consumer interests. He said that if self-regulation by the edtech players will not curb the unfair trade practices, then stringent guideline formulation will be required for protecting consumer interests.

The Secretary also asked IEC to develop SOPs in collaboration with relevant stakeholders. IEC members consist of Indian start-ups and represents 95 per cent of the Indian learner’s community.