On 28.05.2022, a new information obligation for ratings or reviews on websites will apply. From this day on, providers on the Internet must inform whether and, if so, how they ensure that the reviews only come from consumers who have actually purchased the reviewed products/services.
As part of the implementation of the European Omnibus Directive, a new information obligation will be introduced in German law on May 28, 2022. This defines the whether and how of the authenticity verification of customer reviews in the Unfair Competition Act (UWG).
Through this, providers will be obligated to disclose information around ratings / testimonials in the future. This obligation includes:
- Are measures taken to ensure that the reviews displayed are genuine and also come from users who have also purchased or used the product/service?
- What procedures or processes are used to verify authenticity, or what verification measures are performed?
Do you now need to check reviews for authenticity?
No. The new information requirement does not force providers to set up authenticity verification. It merely defines whether and, if so, how a facility should to inform.
Who has to inform about the authenticity?
Affected by the new information obligation are all online providers who make consumer ratings available on sites they manage themselves. This does not apply to sales sites on retail platforms such as Otto, eBay, Amazon or Etsy. Also Not affected are providers that do not display consumer ratings directly and immediately.
If a site operator only refers to an external consumer review or an external collection of consumer reviews via a link, there is no obligation.
What if I use external customer reviews?
The obligation to inform customers does not depend on who creates and generates the reviews. It applies to every website operator who displays reviews directly and immediately.
Even if an external rating system (such as Google my Business, jameda, ShopVote, TrustedShops, etc.) is used for the generation, management and display. From 28.05.2022 must be informed about it whether and how the authenticity of customer reviews is verified.
I use a widget from the provider - what to consider?
If ratings / reviews are displayed in the widget, then information is mandatory. It does not matter who provides the widget. The important thing is that on the surface where the widget is displayed, the information is displayed in the field of view.
What if I do not know the verification measures?
Do you use an external evaluation system and do not know the corresponding measures for authenticity verification? Then you have a task!
The Site operator is self and personally obliged, to clarify whether and how the authenticity of the ratings displayed on its website are verified. Talk to your provider about the rule, because rating system service providers are obliged to disclose this information so that you can already provide the information.
Many providers have already started to make the information available. Others want to announce the information with a certain lead time for integration into their own interface.
How do I have to publish the new information?
The information is usually provided centrally on an information page. A link to the information must appear in the immediate visual context of the displayed ratings (e.g. similar to the shipping costs in an online store, price per unit of measurement, etc.).
If you use a rating widget, make sure that the information in it is clearly visible.
Do ratings need to be reviewed now?
No - it only has to be informed whether the ratings are checked for authenticity. There is no obligation to verify.
In principle, we think it's good that something is being done about inauthentic ratings or testimonials. However, in my opinion, the new regulations will only increase the workload. It would be desirable if the regulations would limit or make it more difficult to abuse ratings and recessions.
In many cases, a review of ratings may not take place at all.
Particularly in sensitive areas such as medicine, etc., many providers can take little or no action against false or untrue reviews. Particularly in the case of reviews without a clear name, it is often not possible to check whether the service was actually used. In the case of stores, restaurants, etc., it is also often not possible to check reviews because operators often do not know who bought the goods (e.g., supermarket, gas station, hotline, etc.) - especially if a pseudonym is given.
In my eyes, it would be important for everyone that reviews could also be checked. We often see that unjustified or untrue evaluations are published - often the only way to help here is through a lawyer.
Tip for the future: Use interfaces that also verify the authenticity of the ratings!