The guidelines to check fake reviews and unverified ratings on e-commerce websites, as well as hotels and travel-booking platforms, will kick in from November 25, consumer affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said on November 21.
The department of consumer affairs had finalised the framework to check fake reviews and the guidelines, based on BIS standard, would be voluntary but if the problem persists they could be made a must, Singh said.
"India is the first country to come up with such guidelines. The framework has been finalised after 30 days of pubic consultation,” Singh said.
The guidelines would be applicable to e-commerce as well as social media platforms.
"We will first make these guidelines voluntary for the industry to align itself. If the menace of fake reviews continue only then government will consider them making mandatory," Singh said.
The guidelines define consumer reviews, review author, experience date, unsolicited review, solicited review and review administrator, Singh said.
Any organisation which publishes consumer reviews online, including suppliers of products and services, that collect reviews from their own customers, or a third party contracted by the supplier or an independent third party would have be covered under the guidelines.
The framework has been designed to protect consumer interest in e-commerce, the government said. Since e-commerce involved a virtual shopping experience without any opportunity to physically view or examine the product, consumers heavily rely on reviews posted on e-commerce platforms.
The department of consumer affairs, under which the department of consumer affairs comes, had set up a committee to develop a framework to check fake and deceptive reviews on June 10.
The committee included stakeholders like e-commerce companies, industry associations, law chairs and consumer organisations."We were getting complaints that fake reviews are becoming a menace. US body FTC is also exploring rule-making against fake reviews. All countries where e-commerce is prominent are looking at keeping a check on fake reviews," Singh said.