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Centre’s guidelines on fake reviews for e-commerce sites to be effective from November 25

New Delhi: The Center released uniform guidelines on fake reviews for e-commerce sites on Monday. On November 25, the new regulations will go into force.

The Bureau of Indian Standards created the conceptual framework (BIS). The committee was established in June with participation from e-commerce businesses like Zomato, Swiggy, Reliance Retail, Tata Sons, Amazon, Flipkart, Blinkit, Google, Meta, and Meesho. These companies have already agreed to follow these requirements.

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According to the rules, e-commerce companies must create a code of conduct that includes requirements for terms and conditions including accessibility, criteria, and making sure content doesn’t contain financial information, among others.

The businesses will also need to create verification and control procedures, filtering and control tools and algorithms, and a process to gauge the accuracy of review collecting.

The rules also include ways to authenticate registration by clicking on a link, confirming registration by phone call or SMS, utilising a captcha system, etc. to ensure the review author’s authenticity and traceability.

The norm will be applied to all websites that post customer reviews, and the requirements will also apply to independent third parties and third parties hired by providers. In order to determine compliance, BIS will also create a conformity assessment scheme for the standard within 15 days.

The Department of Consumer Affairs states that the recommendations would initially be voluntary for all e-commerce platforms to follow and then become mandatory.

“Violation of the standards by the companies will 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 Fora or the CCPA,” said Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

The framework also includes factors that should be taken into account by the review administrator both during and after the publication process. The publication procedure defines the review’s accuracy, default display, and rating weight.

Companies must disclose to the department how they plan to determine overall ratings in an open and honest way. Additionally, they must make sure that no review editing was done before publishing.

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In order to post the reviews chronologically, the websites are required by the rules to display the date of submission by default. Additionally, the default presentation, which shows the average of all reviews, is to include the overall ratings.

“We expect the companies to adhere to these standards and develop a system where fraudulent reviews are filtered out,” he said.

A review administrator will be in charge of the review posting after moderation on each corporate website, he noted. The majority of fraudulent reviews will be removed throughout the moderation process, and in the event that one is published, consumers may file complaints with the appropriate consumer protection agencies.

According to the rules, review authors must attest to their agreement with the terms and conditions and offer contact information, and review administrators must protect personal information and provide staff training.

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