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  • Kyle Chua

India Drafts Framework for Checking Online E-commerce Reviews

When you’re shopping online, it usually helps to read through user reviews to, for instance, check a product’s quality or verify a merchant’s legitimacy. However, because anyone can leave reviews, you can't be certain if what you’re reading is actually true or not.

Credit: Unsplash

India wants to combat this issue and protect consumers and brands alike, proposing a framework for online companies which depend on user reviews to validate products and services, as Reuters reports. These companies include Alphabet Inc's Google, Meta Platform's Facebook and Instagram, Inc, along with travel and food delivery apps.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution said the Department of Consumer Affairs had already set up a committee in June to start developing the framework for deceptive reviews in e-commerce.

"The new guidelines for online reviews are designed to drive increased transparency for both consumers and brands and promote information accuracy," said Sachin Taparia, Founder of LocalCircles, a community platform that is part of the committee drafting the framework.

"As far as platforms like Google and Facebook go, the new rules will require them to validate the real person behind the review through specified 6-8 mechanisms which means fake accounts created just for review writing will go away over time or won't be able to review," added Taparia.

Credit: Reuters

The committee has yet to make the details of the framework available to the public.

The proposal comes amid widespread scrutiny among consumers and various industry experts of how online companies have downplayed the issue of fake reviews and made the vetting process for buyers more difficult than it has to be. The companies in question claim they conduct internal checks to combat fake reviews, but, as of right now, there's no legislature in place that can hold them accountable if they fail to do so.

The Department of Consumer Affairs said it won't immediately impose the framework on the online companies and instead have them comply voluntarily. If the issue continues to grow, that's when the ministry plans to make the framework mandatory. The Bureau of Indian Standards is responsible for assessing compliance.

  • India has proposed a new framework that would combat fake reviews on online companies and promote information accuracy and transparency for both consumers and brands.

  • The proposal comes amid widespread scrutiny of how online companies have downplayed the issue of fake reviews and made the vetting process for buyers more difficult than it has to be.

  • The committee developing the framework has yet to make the details available to the public.

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