Consumer Protection Authority Draft Guidelines regarding Opinions, Ratings and Reviews on the Internet
7 January 2021
Dear clients and friends,
We wish to update you that on January 5, 2021, the Consumer Protection Authority (the “CPA“) published draft guidelines regarding opinions, ratings, and reviews on the internet (the “Draft Guidelines“). The Draft Guidelines were published in light of the extensive use of opinions, rating and reviews (“Reviews“) in online e-commerce websites, and considering consumers’ trust in such Reviews. The Draft Guidelines sets out do’s and don’ts that apply to a Dealer who markets products or services, including by way of Reviews (including, through social media influencers) and as well as to the person who manages the Reviews, whether independently or for a Dealer. A breach of the said principles will be considered as misleading under the Consumer Protection Law, 1981 (the “Law“). It should be noted that while the Draft Guidelines are mainly directed to websites, the CPA clarifies that its principles may also be relevant to Reviews that are published in other media platforms, such as, in the written press.
The Draft Guidelines sets out a number of principles, the violation of which will be considered misleading under the Law and subject to sanctions, as detailed below:
(a) Fake Reviews
- It is forbidden to write or publish fake Reviews, such as, Reviews of non-existing consumers or of consumers who are bloggers and/or social media influencers who have not used the Dealer’s product or service by themselves.
- It is forbidden to boast or create an explicit or implied representation that a particular Review was given by a real consumer, while the Dealer cannot verify that it is indeed a real consumer who have used the Dealer’s product or service.
The CPA also recommends that a Dealer or the Review’s manager will allow consumers to report to them regarding fake Reviews, when the Dealer is expected to review said claims in a timely manner and respond accordingly.
(b)Reviews given in consideration of any payment or incentive
- Reviews may be misleading if they are presented as neutral, but were in fact created by the Dealer / family members / a person who received payment for the Review, even if they used the product or service.
- Incentives can be offered in consideration for Reviews, however, the incentives must be given equally and unconditionally whether the Review is negative or positive, and it must be clarified in advance that the incentive does not depend on the content of the Review.
- Where a monetary payment or other incentives is given in consideration of a Review (such as free clothing, etc.), this matter should be disclosed to the consumer clearly and in proximity to the publication of the Review. The required disclosure is the commercial connection between the person providing the Review and the Dealer, as well as the fact that the Review is an advertisement for the Dealer.
- A Dealer, who presents an overall score for Reviews, must disclose to the consumer whether the said score includes Reviews which were given in consideration for incentives.
(c)Displaying Reviews selectively
- It is very important that the Reviews will accurately reflect the experience of the reviewers. Therefore, the Dealer must ensure that the consumers that are exposed to the Review will get the full picture.
- All Reviews, positive and negative, should be published, in a chronological order or in another objective and transparent manner. Each Review shall be published (as far as possible) in full, while specifying the writing and/or submission date of the Review, and in addition the date of purchase or use by the consumer.
- A Review should be published as soon as possible and its publication should not be delayed due to business interests.
- A Dealer or the Reviews’ manager will disclose to the public their policy regarding the publication or removal of Reviews (for example in case of offensive language, false Reviews, etc.).
Please note that in the Draft Guidelines the CPA’s Commissioner guides the CPA’s investigators to examine Reviews on the internet and in any other media according to the principles mentioned above.
Public comments to the Draft Guidelines can be submitted up to January 26, 2021. The Guidelines will come into force within three months from the date of publication of the official Guidelines on the CPA’s website.
To view the Draft Guidelines on the CPA’s website (in Hebrew) >> click here.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or require any clarification regarding the above.
Herzog Fox and Neeman