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Govt warned edtech companies against indulging in unfair trade practices, including misleading advertisements

Business News. The government on Friday warned edtech companies against indulging in unfair trade practices, including misleading advertisements, and said it will be forced to bring stringent guidelines if there is no self regulation by the industry players.

The increase in fake reviews in the edtech space and ways to curb it were 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 NSE 1.20 % of 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,” Singh said at the meeting.

Issues pertaining to unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements related to the Indian edtech sector figured prominently during the meeting, according to an official statement.

The secretary discussed ways to better manage consumer interests across the edtech ecosystem.

Singh pointed out that it has been reported that certain advertisements and practices do not seem to conform to prevalent guidelines and existing regulations.

Therefore, it is imperative to work together to maintain robust checkpoints that align with the consumers’ interests, he said.

A recent report by Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) said that education category was the largest violator of advertising code in 2021-22.

Singh also advised IEC to continue with 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 agenda, the industry members discussed the need to further enhance the Indian edtech ecosystem to better safeguard consumer interests, through seamless, transparent, and feasible offerings for consumers.

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, the statement said.

In recent months, the government has been cracking down on cab aggregators, restaurant owners and food delivery platforms for unfair business practices.

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