Centre to develop framework to check fake reviews on e-commerce websites

BL New Delhi Bureau | | Updated on: May 28, 2022

DoCA said it will look into current mechanism of e-commerce sites and global best practices to devise the framework

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) on Saturday said it is considering a proposal to develop a framework to keep a tab on fake reviews on e-commerce websites. The move comes in the backdrop of surging online shopping, especially in the last two years due to the Covid-19-induced disruptions.

DoCA, in association with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), had a virtual meeting with all the key stakeholders on the issue on Friday.

Leading e-commerce firms , consumers’ forums, lawyers, industry bodies such as FICCI and CII, law universities and consumer rights activists had participated in the virtual meeting to discus the magnitude of the problem of fake reviews.

DoCA said it will be examining the current mechanism followed by e-commerce entities in the country to weed out fake reviews as well as look into best practices followed globally to develop the proposed framework.

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 e-commerce platforms to know the opinion and experience of users who have already purchased the good or service, DoCA said in a statement.

“Traceability by ensuring the authenticity of the reviewer and the associated liability of the platform are the two key issues here. Also, e-commerce players must disclose as to how they choose the “most relevant reviews” for display in a fair and transparent manner,” said Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary, DoCA.

During the meeting, stakeholders came to a consensus that the issue deserves to be monitored closely and “appropriate framework governing the fake reviews” may be developed to interests of consumers.

E-commerce companies claimed that they already have frameworks in place to monitor fake reviews and will be keen to work with the government to develop a legal framework on the issue.

Manisha Kapoor, CEO, ASCI highlighted the categories of fake and misleading reviews and their impact on consumer interest.

“Paid reviews, unverifiable reviews and absence of disclosure in case of incentivised reviews which make it challenging for consumers to recognise genuine reviews were among the issues discussed,” the statement added.

Published on May 28, 2022
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