Fake Online Reviews On Products May Invite Fines Soon Deets Here

New Delhi: Fines may soon be imposed for fake online reviews on products including electronic gadgets. Fake reviews mislead consumers into buying online products and services so the government is formulating a plan to stop the menace.Also Read – Goodbye To Illegal Loan Apps, Centre To Prepare Whitelist For App Stores

The Union consumer affairs ministry on September 14 is likely to hold a meeting where they will discuss on fake online reviews, “right to repair electronic appliances and standard device chargers”, official said according to a report by Mint.

Earlier, the government said it was developing a framework to keep a check on fake reviews posted on e-commerce websites to protect consumer interest. The consumer affairs ministry along with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) held a virtual meeting in May with stakeholders, including e-commerce entities, to discuss the magnitude of fake reviews on their platforms.

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) said it was developing these frameworks after studying the present mechanism being followed by the e-commerce entities in India and best practices available globally.

Consumer forums, law universities, lawyers, FICCI, CII, and consumer rights activists, among others, participated in the meeting to discuss the magnitude of the problem and roadmap ahead for fake reviews on websites.

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 experience of users who have already purchased the good or service.

“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 how they choose the ‘most relevant reviews’ for display in a fair and transparent manner,” Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh told news agency PTI.

All stakeholders agreed that the issue deserves to be monitored closely and appropriate framework governing the fake reviews should be developed for protection of consumer interest, the statement said.

Stakeholders from e-commerce companies claimed they have frameworks in place by which they monitor fake reviews and would be pleased to take part in developing a legal framework on the issue, it added.

Nidhi Khare, additional secretary and Anupam Mishra, joint secretary in the Department of Consumer Affairs also attended the meeting.

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

The issues discussed in the meeting included how paid reviews, unverifiable reviews, and the absence of disclosure in case of incentivised reviews make it challenging for consumers to recognise genuine reviews.

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