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BIS issues standards for online consumer reviews

BIS standard lays down the process which demonstrates the commitment of consumer review sites that value their customers and provide reviews that can be trusted

The Bureau of Indian Standards has come out with a new standard for organisations, like e-commerce players, travel portals and food delivery platforms, that publish consumer reviews online as part of the government's efforts to curb fake reviews.

This standard is applicable to any organisation that publishes consumer reviews online, including suppliers/sellers of products and services that collect reviews from their own customers, a third-party contracted by the suppliers/sellers or an independent third party.

According to an official statement, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the national standard body of India, has published an Indian Standard -- IS 19000:2022, 'Online Consumer Reviews - Principles and Requirements for their Collection, Moderation and Publication'.

"This standard provides requirements and recommendations for the principles and methods for review administrators to apply in their collection, moderation and publication of online consumer reviews. The standard prescribes specific responsibilities for the review author and the review administrator," the statement said.

BIS standard lays down the process which demonstrates the commitment of consumer review sites that value their customers and provide reviews that can be trusted.

"It would help build confidence among consumers to purchase goods online and help them take better purchase decisions. The standard is expected to benefit all stakeholders in the e-commerce ecosystem, i.e. consumers, e-commerce platforms, sellers etc," the statement said.

Over the last few years, there has been a steady rise in e-commerce transactions across the country. Reviews posted online play a significant role in making purchase decisions and consumers exceedingly rely on reviews posted on e-commerce platforms to see the opinion and experiences of users who have already purchased the goods or services.

"As online reviews are increasingly influential to consumers' purchasing decisions, it is important to both consumers and suppliers/sellers that the same are managed effectively to build confidence in the quality, integrity, accuracy and transparency of reviews," it added.

On November 21, Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh shared highlights of this BIS standard.

The BIS standards, prepared after extensive stakeholder consultations, will be voluntary but the government will consider making them mandatory in case the menace of fake reviews continue on online platforms, he had said.

Organisations will have to voluntarily disclose all paid consumer reviews of products and services offered on their platforms. However, the government has barred the publication of reviews that "have been purchased and/or written by individuals employed for that purpose by the supplier or third party concerned".

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