The Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said the government would build a framework to combat fraudulent reviews on e-commerce websites.
The ministry said that “after studying the present mechanism being followed by e-commerce entities in India and best practices available globally”, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) will develop the framework, reported Indian Express.
The announcement comes a day after Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh met several stakeholders on May 27 to discuss the issue of false reviews on e-commerce platforms.
Issues such as bought reviews, unverifiable reviews and lack of disclosure in case of incentivised reviews, which make it difficult for customers to recognise genuine evaluations, were considered during the meeting.
According to a statement, at the meeting with various stakeholders such as e-commerce entities, consumer forums, law universities, lawyers, FICCI, CII, consumer rights activists and others, the DoCA, in collaboration with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), discussed the magnitude and road ahead for fake reviews on websites.
During the meeting, ASCI CEO Manisha Kapoor discussed the different types of fraudulent and misleading reviews, as well as how they affect consumer interest.
However, the statement added that consumers rely extensively on reviews posted on e-commerce platforms to see the opinion and experiences of people who have already purchased the products or services because e-commerce entails a virtual shopping experience with no opportunity to physically view or study the product.
The two main difficulties here, according to Singh, are traceability, which ensures the legitimacy of the reviewer, and the platform’s associated liability. He also said that in a fair and transparent manner, e-commerce players must also reveal how they chose the most relevant reviews for display.
All stakeholders reportedly agreed that the issue should be continuously watched and that an adequate framework for false reviews should be devised to handle the problem for consumer protection.
“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,” the statement noted.
It should be noted that despite the public outrage over the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, one industry that not only survived but thrived, demonstrating unparalleled development, is e-commerce.
Even after the physical stores open, India’s e-commerce business is expected to grow at a rate of 21.5% by 2022.