India releases guidelines to curb fake reviews on e-commerce platforms

The Indian government launched a framework titled “Indian Standard (IS) 19000:2022” to curb fake and deceptive reviews in e-commerce platforms and portals.

The standard, which will be applicable to every online platform which publishes consumer reviews, will initially start with voluntary moderation, and then move to mandatory requirements if the number of fake reviews keeps rising. “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.”

Both the review author and the review administrator are given clear obligations under the standard. For the review author, these include assuring that they have read and agree to the terms and conditions and giving their contact information. For the review administrator, these include protecting personal information and staff training.

The framework will come into effect from November 25. 

“IS 19000:2022 is the standard that the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) has formulated for us, in consultation with us and the industry. Public consultations have taken place. Now, this is ready to be launched. While we unveil the main provisions of this standard today, this will be published on Friday… On 25th this will be in place,” Rohit Kumar Singh, Consumer Affairs Secretary, said in a press conference.

According to the standards, platforms must set up review administrators who will manually or automatically monitor reviews to weed out biases and prevent false reviews. The reviews must include the publishing date and star rating.

Customers shouldn’t be permitted to modify their reviews or employ offensive language. According to the framework, platforms should forbid reviewers who post false information from doing so in the future.

Platforms will ask authors who post reviews online to confirm their identities. According to the recommendations, platforms will use customers’ email addresses, phone numbers, IP addresses, or Captcha systems to authenticate their identity.

“All the countries where e-commerce is getting more and more prevalent and popular, they are all struggling with [online fake reviews]. Some are making rules, some are making a legal provision. But I think we are the first country and I qualify that statement subject to my knowledge, which is working at [the] standard, and we will take the standards route. We don’t want to bulldoze the industry… We will first seek voluntary compliance and then if the menace continues to grow, we will maybe make it mandatory in the future — depending on what happens,” said Singh.

Written by Sophie Blake


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