The Central government recently unveiled the new standard – Indian Standard (IS) 19000:2022 on “Online Consumer Reviews” and ratings, which has been prepared by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
To combat the threat of fraudulent and deceptive product and service reviews, all e-commerce players, travel and ticketing portals and online food delivery platforms will soon be required to voluntarily reveal all paid or sponsored reviews.
What are the rules?
- Online reviews have greater influence on consumers mainly in three sectors – tour and travel, restaurant and eateries, and consumer durables.
- With the notification of the standard, India will be the first country in the world to have such a norm for Online Consumer Reviews.
- As per the new standard, the BIS has defined reviews as solicited and unsolicited.
- The person responsible for handling the review in any organisation will be called the review administrator.
- The new standard gives an option for the reviewers to withdraw their reviews.
- The new standard will be applicable even for independent third-party entities that post such reviews on any online platform.
- There are websites in countries like Turkey and Moldova where there is a business of fake reviews and companies pay money and get reviews.
- The focus of the new standard is adequate disclosure, as the online platforms have to specify the period when the reviews were collected so that consumers are not misled.
- Representatives from all major players, including Google and Meta, were part of the committee that developed the final standard, thus high compliance is to be expected, as fake reviews also harm the industry.
- Failure to comply with the BIS standard is unfair trade practice, and such entities may face legal action under the Consumer Protection Act.
- The BIS will come up with a conformity assessment scheme to certify the websites hosting such reviews. The websites will display such certification for consumers information.
About ‘Bureau of Indian Standards’ –
- BIS is the only national body that frames standards.
- It works under the aegis of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Government of India.
- BIS is responsible for the harmonious development of the activities of standardisation, marking and quality certification of goods etc.
- The Bureau of Indian standards (BIS) Act 2016 establishes the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) as the National Standards Body of India.
- The Act enables the Central Government to appoint any authority/agency, in addition to the BIS, to verify the conformity of products and services with the established standard and issue certificate of conformity.
- There is a provision for repair or recall, of the products (bearing Standard Mark) that do not conform to the relevant Indian Standard.