Dutch gov’t pushes bill to outlaw fake online reviews

State Secretary Mona Keijzer of Economic Affairs presented a bill that will put stricter rules on online stores and ban the posting of fake reviews. This bill, based on a European guideline that will apply to all member states from May 2022, is intended to better protect consumers.

“What applies to consumers in the physical world must also apply to them online,” Keijzer said on Friday. “Too often information on social media, digital platforms and web shops is still incomplete, unclear or even misleading. This means that as a consumer, you can make a purchase or conclude a contract, without being well aware of the conditions.”

In addition to banning fake reviews outright so that consumers aren’t misled about products, the law also sets stricter conditions to online stores. They will have to clarify why some products are listed higher on their sites than others, for example indicating that the seller purchased an advertisement for the product. The consumer must be able to see how the order in which their search results are shown was established.

If an online store shows a personalized offer based on cookies from other sites, this must be made clear. Online stores that work with third parties must also indicate whether they themselves or the external seller is responsible for returns, so that the consumer knows where to go with questions.

According to Keijzer, it is high time for consumer protection to be updated in law. “This modernized legal consumer protection is necessary to make our economy fairer,” she said