Department of Consumer Affairs Seeks To Mandate Indian Standard On Online Consumer Reviews

The Department of Consumer Affairs held a stakeholder consultation today to address the growing problem of fake online reviews. A press release on this consultation was issued on May 15, 2024.

The release observes that the consumer grievances related to e-commerce have surged on the National Consumer Helpline (NCH). From 2018 to 2023, e-commerce complaints jumped from 22% to 43% of total grievances. This rise coincides with the increasing reliance on online reviews for purchasing decisions.

Fake reviews erode trust in online platforms and mislead consumers.

It may be recalled that the department had launched the Indian Standard (IS) 19000:2022 on November 23, 2022. This standard outlines principles for collection, moderation, and publication of online reviews. It emphasizes integrity, accuracy, privacy and transparency.

Now, the department is considering a Quality Control Order (QCO) based on the IS 19000:2022 standard.

The QCO would mandate:

  • Processes to ensure genuine reviews are published.
  • A ban on biased, edited, or suppressed reviews.
  • Compliance with the IS 19000:2022 principles.

The meeting included representatives from major online platforms, consumer organizations, and legal experts. Stakeholders welcomed the proposed QCO and acknowledged the importance of addressing fake reviews.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution will make the draft QCO available for public comment soon.