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Govt Sets Up Committees To Curb Fake Ecommerce Reviews, Exorbitant Claims By Edtech Platforms

Govt Sets Up Committees To Curb Fake Ecommerce Reviews, Exorbitant Claims By Edtech Platforms

A committee has also been formed on cryptocurrency and has been tasked with coming out with FAQs

The committee on fake reviews includes representatives from e-commerce firms, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), CII and other stakeholders

The government will come out with a framework on the issue of fake reviews in the next two months

The Centre has formed two separate committees to tackle the issue of fake reviews on ecommerce platforms and exorbitant claims made by edtech platforms. Besides, it has also formed a committee to come out with frequently asked questions (FAQs) on cryptocurrency. 

The committee on fake reviews includes representatives from e-commerce firms, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and other stakeholders.

The government will come out with a framework to tackle the issue in the next two months, Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh was quoted as saying by various media reports. 

Singh said there are two issues with regard to fake reviews on ecommerce platforms – one is about traceability of the person writing the reviews, and the other prevalent issue is negative reviews posted by rival ecommerce websites.

The government also held talks with representatives of ecommerce companies, ASCI and several other industry bodies including CII, FICCI, Assocham on the issue a few days ago, he added. 

Last month, the government announced its plan to develop a framework to curb fake reviews. The Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) would develop the frameworks, it said.

Earlier, DoCA said that ecommerce company stakeholders claimed to have frameworks in place for monitoring  fake reviews.

Singh, on Friday, again mentioned the findings from a study conducted by the European Commission on EU-wide screening of online consumer reviews across 223 major websites. At least 55% of the websites violated the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive of the EU, as per the study. 

Among the other two committees, the committee on edtech is formed to control the exorbitant claims by the platforms, while the one on cryptocurrency will reportedly come out with FAQs. 

According to a statement by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), the traders’ body has also been made a member of the committee on fake reviews on ecommerce sites. The government’s ambitious ecommerce project Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) is also a part of the committee. 

Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of CAIT, welcomed the move as “this critical issue greatly influences the choice of the consumers and vitiates the purchasing pattern”. 

“The terms of reference of the committee are to examine the impact of fake reviews in e-commerce on the rights of consumers…To look into the different forms of fake reviews and steps that can be undertaken to identify genuine reviews,’ CAIT said.  

The committee will also research international best practices and examine how fake reviews have been curbed into jurisdictions. It will also recommend a legal framework to protect consumer interest while shopping online, CAIT added.

The ecommerce segment has seen exponential growth in the country over the last few years. Along with first movers such as Flikpart, Amazon, big corporates including Tata, Reliance are also now aggressively trying to grab a share of the market. As per an Inc42 report, the Indian ecommerce market is estimated to reach $400 Bn by 2030.

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