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इंडियन आवाज़     27 Nov 2022 07:00:13      انڈین آواز

Govt launches framework for safeguarding consumer interest in e-commerce

Conformity Assessment Scheme for the framework to be developed in 15 days

Staff reporter

Government of India today issued comprehensive guidelines to guard consumers from fake online reviews of products. These would come into effect from November 25 and would be voluntary.

The guidelines have been finalised by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and came into being after the department of consumer affairs received a slew of complaints on fake review of products being posted by several e-commerce companies on the social media and on web portals.

Secretary in the consumer affairs department, Rohit Kumar Singh told media persons that to begin with, all stakeholders would have to ensure self regulation.

However if it is found that fake reviews are still being circulated, then complaints can be made to the various consumer fora and tribunals, Singh said.

https://static.pib.gov.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/image/image001DNZD.jpg

He added that the guidelines are meant not only for e-commerce entities but also for all those who are writing reviews.

Regarding penalising erring entities indulging in fake reviews, the secretary said that the decision regarding that would be taken by the consumer fora and tribunals, to whom the complaints would be referred.

The guiding principles of the standard are integrity, accuracy, privacy, security, transparency, accessibility and responsiveness. The standard prescribes specific responsibilities for the review author and the review administrator. For review author, these include confirming acceptance of terms and conditions, providing contact information and for review administrator, these include safeguarding personal information and training of staff.

Once made mandatory, if required, the violation of the standards by any entity may be considered as an unfair trade practice or violation of consumer rights and a consumer may submit such grievances to the National Consumer Helpline, Consumer Commissions or the CCPA.

The standard provides for responsibilities of organization including developing a code of practice, and necessary stipulations for terms and conditions like accessibility, criteria, and ensuring content does not contain financial information etc.

The standard also provides for methods for verification of review author through email address, identification by telephone call or SMS, confirming registration by clicking on a link, using captcha system etc. to check traceability and genuineness of the review author.

With respect to moderation, the standard provides for both automated and manual moderation and provides checks for analyzing the review content. As regards to publication, the standard includes considerations for the review administrator at the time of publication process and after the publication process. The accuracy of the review, default display and weightage of ratings are defined in the publication process.

The standard is expected to benefit all stakeholders in the e-commerce ecosystem i.e., consumers, e-commerce platforms, sellers etc. It will help usher in confidence among consumers to purchase goods online and help them take better purchase decisions.

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