Days after meeting with stakeholders, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) announced on Friday that it would develop a framework to control fake reviews on e-commerce sites within 60 days.
A committee, headed by Additional Secretary Nidhi Khare, was set up on Thursday, which includes representatives of e-commerce companies large and small, some industry organizations, such as the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industries (FICCI) and Associated Chamber of Commerce (Assocham).
Since e-commerce involves a virtual shopping experience without any opportunity to physically see or examine the product, consumers rely heavily on reviews posted on e-commerce platforms to find out the opinion and the experience of users who have already purchased the good or service.
“We ask, let’s sit down together and create a framework. It’s not that they all promote fake reviews, they themselves are victims of them too. So I think it’s a win-win proposition for all stakeholders,” Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh told the media.
He said hopefully within the next 60 days some sort of framework would be ready. “It’s a disease that won’t go away completely but the idea is to make a framework to contain it,” he added.
He highlighted two important issues related to this problem. One is Traceability, which wrote the review. “Unless he or she brought that product or service – the receipt is verified – only then can he or she write the review. A second problem is that of business rivalries. Just as there are false positive reviews , there are also fake negative reviews by business rivals,” the secretary said.
Earlier, a full video conference was held where several e-commerce websites were invited along with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). The Department then checked what was happening in other geographies – the European Union, Australia and even the United States. “The EU report is alarming. It indicates that nearly 55% of e-commerce businesses do nothing about fake reviews,” he said.
Stakeholders from e-commerce companies said at the time that they had frameworks in place to monitor fake reviews and would be happy to help develop a legal framework on the matter.
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