E-Commerce Websites Under Check to Spot Fake Reviews, ASCI, Union Ministry to Hold Virtual Meeting on Friday

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs along with the Advertising Standards Board of India (ASCI) will hold a virtual meeting on Friday with stakeholders including e-commerce entities to discuss the amount of fake reviews on their platforms, which mislead consumers to buy products and services online. The purpose of the meeting is to prepare a roadmap for the future. Discussions will generally be based on the impact of fake and misleading reviews on consumers and potential measures to prevent such anomalies, the department said in a statement.

Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh has written to all stakeholders: e-commerce entities like Flipkart, Amazon, Tata Sons, Reliance Retail etc., along with consumer forums, law universities, lawyers, FICCI, CII, consumer rights activists, etc. To participate in the meeting.

The Secretary reported with stakeholders the results of an EU-wide examination of online consumer assessments across 223 major websites.

Screening results confirm that at least 55 percent of websites are in violation of the European Union’s Unfair Trade Practices Directive, which requires honest information for consumers to make an informed decision.

Moreover, in 144 out of the 223 sites examined, authorities were unable to confirm that traders had done enough to ensure the reviews were correct, that is, if they were posted by consumers who had already used the reviewed product or service, the statement said.

In the letter, the minister said that consumers are increasingly shopping online for goods and services with the increasing use of the internet and smartphones.

“Because e-commerce involves a virtual shopping experience without any opportunity to actually view or inspect the product, consumers rely heavily on reviews posted on e-commerce platforms for the opinion and experience of users who have actually purchased the goods or service,” he said.

He added that as a result, and due to false and misleading reviews, the right to information, which is a consumer right under the Consumer Protection Act 2019, has been violated.

“As the problem affects people who shop online every day and has a significant impact on their rights as consumers, it is important that it be examined in more scrutiny and detail,” the minister added.

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