The new legislation in the EU is in force to bring greater transparency to online marketplaces in hopes of compelling online retailers to state whether they are a seller or private individual.
In addition, the legislation hopes to prohibit fake reviews and to curb the advertisement of fake price reductions. According to internetretailing.net, the legislation will also place new obligations on price comparison sites to inform consumers about ranking criteria.
Member States in the European Union, when new legislation comes from Brussels in form of a directive, have two years to bring that legislation into their national law forms. For those outside of the EU, the system works similarly to federal legislation passed in the United States which are then put into state legislation.
“The new rules will increase protection for consumers in the digital world, which they rightly deserve. The EU is also saying no to products sold as identical in other Member States, when this is clearly not the case. But these new rules won’t protect consumers from rogue traders and online tricksters unless they are strictly implemented on the ground. I strongly encourage all Member States to ensure that the new rules are implemented without delay." Those are the words of Věra Jourová, EU-Commission Vice President and Commissioner for values and transparency.
Also commenting on the new legislation was Didier Reynders, Commissioner for justice, who added: "Today we are sending a strong warning to traders that they should play by the rules, not bend them. Breaking EU consumer rules on large scale may cost a company a big fine of at least 4% of annual turnover. This will be a sufficiently dissuasive and effective penalty to prevent dishonest traders from cheating. I welcome this new legislation, as it is setting truly European consumer protection standards.”
The Facebook And Ebay Part
Also this week, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) gained assurances from Facebook and Ebay that they were going to start policing reviews on the platforms. Facebook and Ebay have also introduced more robust systems to prevent fake content from appearing, banning certain groups and users who perpetuate fake reviews, etc.
The CEO of CMA, Andrea Coscelli added: “Fake reviews are really damaging to shoppers and businesses alike. Millions of people base their shopping decisions on reviews, and if these are misleading or untrue, then shoppers could end up being misled into buying something that isn’t right for them – leaving businesses who play by the rules missing out.”
At any rate, there isn't much in the way of consumer protection to differentiate between real reviews and fake ones. Intervention from legislators and regulators helps to build frameworks, but rules and guidelines will have to continuously and painstakingly be updated to stave off ever-changing ways of distributing misinformation. Collaboration between lawmakers and the platforms, the open exchange of knowledge, will be vital to keep online shopping safe and fair.