Aiming to guard consumers from fake online reviews of products, the government will issue guidelines on Monday under which a penalty ranging from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 50 lakh could be imposed on e-commerce companies if they are found guilty of posting fake reviews of products.
To begin with, these guidelines would be voluntary. However, they will become mandatory if companies don’t follow them.
Sources aware of the developments informed that the Department of Consumer Affairs would issue the guidelines on Monday, which would discourage e-commerce companies from posting fake product reviews.
The guidelines have been prepared by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) on the basis of the report by a committee, which was formed in June this year. The committee comprised stakeholders like the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and the Department of Consumer Affairs.
According to sources, many e-commerce companies also get fake reviews of products sold by their rival companies to wrest their customer base. Such fake reviews influence customers’ choices and also harm the spirit of competition.
Therefore, the Department of Consumer Affairs, which has been receiving complaints regarding this, has come up with guidelines to prevent companies from posting fake product reviews.
As per the new guidelines, a penalty ranging from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 50 lakh could be imposed on e-commerce companies if found at fault.
Sources said that according to the proposed guidelines, reviewers who write fake reviews could be asked to submit their identity details like bills, documents, pictures, and even videos, to e-commerce platforms for cross-verification through KYC methodology.
In addition to this, e-commerce companies may also be asked to remove unverified buyers and reviewers. Failure to do so would attract penalties and action against them.
E-commerce companies like Swiggy, Zomato, Amazon, etc. are likely to be impacted by these guidelines.