Central government officials are set to meet various representatives of e-commerce platforms such as Flipkart and Amazon to discuss possible measures to check growing fake reviews on these platforms that mislead consumers into buying online services or products.
The key meeting between Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA), Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and representatives of e-commerce platforms is set to take place on May 27.
“The discussions will be broadly based on the impact of fake and misleading reviews on consumers and possible measures to prevent such anomaly. In this regard, Secretary DoCA, Rohit Kumar Singh has written to all stakeholders,” Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution said.
The key meet will find representatives of Tata Sons, Reliance Retail among other players in the e-ecommerce space. Besides, deputies of various consumer forums, law universities, lawyers, FICCI, CII, consumer rights Activists will also be present in the meeting, the ministry said.
Prior to the meeting, Singh has also shared a statement issued by the European Commission dated on 20 January highlighting results of an EU-wide screening on online consumer reviews across 223 major websites.
“The screening results underlines that at least 55% of the websites violate the unfair commercial practices directive of the EU which requires truthful information to be presented to consumers to make an informed choice,” the ministry further said.
As per the EC, in 144 out of the 223 websites checked, the authorities could not confirm that traders were doing enough to ensure that reviews were authentic.
Moreover, Singh’s letter stated that it is relevant to mention that with growing internet and smartphone use, consumers are increasingly shopping online to purchase goods and services.
The Secretary reiterated the urgency to quell fake reviews stating that consumers on e-commerce platforms heavily rely on reviews posted to see the opinion and experience of users who have already purchased the goods or service.
“As a result, due to fake and misleading reviews, the right to be informed, which is a consumer right under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 is violated. Since the issue impacts people shopping online on a daily basis and has a significant impact on their rights as a consumer, it is important that it is examined with greater scrutiny and detail,’ the letter stated.