On Monday, the government announced extensive recommendations to protect customers from fraudulent internet product reviews. These would be voluntary and would take effect on November 25. The guidelines were finalised by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) after the department of consumer affairs received numerous complaints about fraudulent product reviews posted by several e-commerce enterprises on social media and web portals, according to a report by PTI.Rohit Kumar Singh, secretary of the consumer affairs department, told reporters that, first and foremost, all stakeholders must assure self-regulation. If it is discovered that fraudulent reviews are still being spread, Singh suggests filing complaints with the various consumer fora and tribunals.
He went on to say that the standards are intended not only for e-commerce companies but also for everyone who writes reviews. In terms of penalising erring organisations that engage in phoney reviews, the secretary stated that the decision would be made by the consumer fora and tribunals to which the complaints would be addressed.
He also stated that the measure is not intended to fight the sector, but rather to ensure self-regulation so that unfair commercial practices like these are curtailed. According to insiders, television commercials promoting products like painkillers that promise rapid relief and feature notable personalities will have to include disclaimers noting that professional actors are being utilised to promote the product and are only acting.
The consumer affairs secretary further stated that 11 major e-retailers, including Zomato, Swiggy, Tata Sons, Reliance Retail, Meta, and Amazon, participated in the consultations for developing the recommendations. They were also members of the committee that developed the guidelines, which included BIS.
According to the standards, product reviews must go through various checks and balances before being published. They would be subjected to both automatic and manual moderation before being published. Furthermore, the criteria ensure that the reviews are not prejudiced.
A performance audit of internet reviews would also be ensured, and the material could even be altered. Reviewers will also be required to provide the date of publication as well as their personal information. There is also a method for withdrawing a review and providing a comprehensive link to the review that has been posted online.
The government established these standards to ensure that businesses, particularly e-commerce enterprises, do not post phoney product reviews in order to influence consumers. The rules were created by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) based on the findings of a committee convened in June of this year.
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and the Department of Consumer Affairs were among the stakeholders on the committee.