Government Warns EdTech Companies Against Fake Reviews, Misleading Ads
The government on Friday warned EdTech companies against indulging in unfair trade practices, including misleading advertisements. It said it would be forced to bring stringent guidelines if industry players had no self-regulation.
The increase in fake reviews in the EdTech space and ways to curb it was also discussed during a meeting by Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh with self-regulatory body India EdTech Consortium (IEC) and other industry players in the national capital.
IEC runs under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).
The meeting was attended by representatives of IAMAI, along with IEC member companies, including upGrad, BYJU’S, Unacademy, Vedantu, Great Learning, WhiteHat Jr. and Sunstone.
“If self-regulation does not curb the unfair trade practices, then stringent guidelines would require to be formulated for ensuring transparency,” Mr Singh said at the meeting.
According to an official statement, issues about unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements for the Indian edtech sector figured prominently during the meeting.
The secretary discussed ways to manage consumer interests across the EdTech ecosystem better.
Mr Singh pointed out that it has been reported that certain advertisements and practices do not seem to conform to general guidelines and existing regulations.
Therefore, he said it is imperative to work together to maintain robust checkpoints that align with the consumers’ interests.
A recent report by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) said that the education category was the largest violator of the advertising code in 2021-22.
Mr Singh also advised IEC to continue their positive efforts to serve the ecosystem and form a joint working group with relevant stakeholders to create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
IEC comprises Indian startups and represents 95 per cent of the Indian learner community.
As part of the plan, the industry members discussed the need to enhance the Indian EdTech ecosystem further to better safeguard consumer interests through seamless, transparent, and feasible offerings for consumers.
The statement said that the industry members also briefed the secretary about the progress of the IEC and the direction of ongoing efforts to improve awareness and welfare of learners.
In recent months, the government has been cracking down on cab aggregators, restaurant owners and food delivery platforms for unfair business practices.