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Government warns Ed-tech companies against unfair trade practices

Government warns Ed-tech companies against unfair trade practices

If self-regulation does not work, then the government will formulate stringent guidelines, warned Consumer Affairs Secretary.

Government warns Ed-tech companies against unfair trade practices Government warns Ed-tech companies against unfair trade practices

The Central government on Friday issued a warning to Ed-tech companies against unfair business practices, saying that if self-regulation does not work, then the government will formulate stringent guidelines.

The Secretary of the Department of Consumer Affairs, Rohit Kumar Singh, met with the self-regulatory organisation India Edtech Consortium (IEC), which is overseen by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). Members of IEC, including upGrad, BYJU'S, Unacademy, Vedantu, Great Learning, WhiteHat Jr., and Sunstone, as well as representatives of IAMAI, were also present at the meeting. 

During the meeting, Singh stated that issues relating to misleading advertising for the ed-tech sector and unfair business practises were discussed extensively. The Secretary also talked about how to effectively protect consumer interests in India’s ed-tech ecosystem. 

Interestingly, in the month of December last year, the government issued an advisory to citizens regarding the use of caution against ed-tech companies which support online and remote learning. The Ministry of Education went on to advise parents, students, and all stakeholders in education to exercise caution when deciding to use online content and coaching provided by domestic ed-tech firms.

IEC, which represents 95 per cent of the Indian learner community, is made up of Indian start-ups. As part of the agenda, the participants talked about how the Indian Ed-Tech ecosystem has to be improved in order to better protect the interests of consumers by providing smooth, transparent, and workable consumer offers.

The Secretary also noted that it has been reported that some advertisements and activities do not appear to follow accepted norms and applicable laws. He went on to emphasize the importance of working together in order to maintain robust checkpoints that align with the consumers’ interests.

The problem of more and more fake reviews was also a significant worry that was addressed during the meeting. Notably, recent research from the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) indicated that the education sector committed the most advertising code violations between 2021 and 2022.

The industry representatives gave the Secretary an update on the IEC's development and the direction of current initiatives to enhance learner care and awareness.

 

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