Amazon Google investigated by UK regulator over fake reviews | Competition Markets Authority


Amazon Google are to be investigated by the UK competition watchdog over concerns the tech companies have not done enough to tackle the widespread problem of fake reviews on their websites.

The Competition Markets Authority, which began looking at the issue of fake reviews on major platforms two years ago, will now consider whether Amazon Google have broken consumer law by not taking sufficient action to protect shoppers from fake reviews.

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Sellers use fake misleading reviews to improve their star ratings, which can in turn affect how prominently their company, products, are displayed when consumers shop online.

“Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews then spending their money based on those recommendations,” said Andrea Coscelli, the chief executive of the CMA. “Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake five-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence while law-abiding businesses lose out.”

The CMA said its work so far raised “specific concerns” that the two Silicon Valley companies were not doing enough to detect fake misleading reviews or suspicious patterns of behaviour investigate those reviews, were failing to impose adequate sanctions on reviewers or businesses who break the rules on posts – even the serial offenders.

It was also concerned that Amazon’s systems have been failing to “adequately protect deter” some sellers from manipulating product listings – for example, by co-opting positive reviews from other products.

If the CMA’s investigation finds Amazon Google have broken consumer law it could take enforcement action. This could include securing formal commitments from Amazon Google to crack down on the problem, or pursuing court action if they fail to do so.

In 2019, the CMA told Facebook, Instagram eBay to crack down on fake reviews, having found “troubling evidence” of a thriving marketplace for misleading online reviews. However, the CMA was forced to intervene again when a follow-up investigation found Facebook had failed to act.

This year a Which? investigation found companies claiming to be able to guarantee “Amazon’s Choice” status on products – an algorithmically assigned badge of quality that can push products to the top of search results – within two weeks, others claiming to have armies of reviewers numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

“We have repeatedly exposed fake reviews on websites including Amazon Google, so this investigation is a positive step,” said Rocio Concha, the director of policy advocacy at Which?. “The CMA must now move swiftly towards establishing whether these companies have broken the law. This should prompt Amazon Google to finally take the necessary steps to protect users from the growing tide of fake reviews on their platforms and, if they fail to do so, the regulator must be prepared to take strong enforcement action.”

Amazon has said it removed more than 200m suspected fake reviews globally before they were seen by customers in 2020 alone but finds the fight against the fake review “factories” difficult to combat.

“To help earn the trust of customers, we devote significant resources to preventing fake or incentivised reviews from appearing in our store,” a spokesman for Amazon said. “We work hard to ensure that reviews accurately reflect the experience that customers have had with a product. We will continue to assist the CMA with its inquiries we note its confirmation that no findings have been made against our business. We are relentless in protecting our store will take action to stop fake reviews regardless of the size or location of those who attempt this abuse.”

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A spokesperson for Google said the company has strict policies around fake reviews has disabled user accounts over breaches.

“Our strict policies clearly state reviews must be based on real experiences, when we find policy violations, we take action — from removing abusive content to disabling user accounts,” a spokesperson said. “We look forward to continuing our work with the CMA to share more on how our industry-leading technology review teams work to help users find relevant useful information on Google.’’

Concha from Which? added that the government must also give online platforms “greater legal responsibility for tackling fake fraudulent content on their sites – including fake misleading review activity”.



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How income tax rule applies on your cryptocurrency gains — Explained


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has not yet granted legal tender status to bitcoin other cryptocurrencies. But, fast emerging cryptocurrency trading platforms in India are enough to indicate the rising number of Indians investing in the virtual tender. When there is investment, there must be income tax liability, but due to the lack of clear income tax rules in regard to bitcoins other cryptocurrencies, it’s not advisable to avoid paying income tax on one’s cryptocurrency investment gains.

According to tax investment experts, all income except the explicitly exempted income is liable to income tax. This means that investors will be liable to pay taxes on cryptocurrency investments as well. They advised cryptocurrency investors to pay income tax on cryptocurrency profit by understanding the nature of the investment.

Speaking on the income tax rule applicable on cryptocurrency profit Amit Gupta, Co-founder MD at SAG Infotech said, “As per regular income tax parlance, the taxation on cryptocurrencies should depend on the nature of investment, whether it is held in the form of currency or in the form of assets. Profits from the sale of cryptocurrency can be taxed as business income if traded frequently, or as capital gains if held for investment purposes. However, it needs to be noted that, if considered as business income, then the profit can be taxed as per the applicable income tax slab rates, but if it is held for investment purpose, then taxation can be the same as tax gain in the form of capital gains.”

Elaborating upon the capital gain tax levied on cryptocurrency profit, the Managing Director of the SEBI registered income tax solution firm went on to add, “If taxpayers utilized their investments in between 3 years, then short-term capital gains according to the relevant income tax slabs will be applicable. However, if the redemption happens post-3 years of investment, then it can be treated as long-term capital gain can be taxed at 20 per cent with indexation benefit.”

Highlighting the legal angle involved in cryptocurrency transactions Pankaj Mathpal, Founder & MD at Optima Money Managers said, “Cryptocurrency is not a legal tender in India but it doesn’t mean cryptocurrency transaction is illegal. So, while filing income tax on profit from cryptocurrency investments, one has two options — either prove that your income from cryptocurrency is a business or an asset class income or just choose the safest mode of income from other sources. My advice to the cryptocurrency investors is to go by the safest mode file cryptocurrency income under income from other sources.”

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Delhi govt exaggerated oxygen need by four times, states SC panel




Supreme Court’s oxygen audit team submitted its report stated that the Delhi government exaggerated its oxygen requirement by four times at the peak of COVID-19’s second wave.


The panel, led by AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria, included Delhi Government Principal Home Secretary Bhupinder Bhalla, Max Healthcare Director Dr Sandeep Buddhiraja Union Jal Shakti Ministry Joint Secretary Subodh Yadav.





“The Delhi government exaggerated the oxygen requirement for the city by more than four times during the April 25-May 10 period, at the peak of the second COVID wave,” the report said, adding that supply of excess oxygen to Delhi could have triggered a crisis in its supply to 12 states with the high caseload.


“There was a gross discrepancy (about four times) in the actual oxygen consumption claimed by the Delhi government (1,140MT) as it was about four times higher than the calculated consumption as per the formula based on bed capacity (289 MT),” said an interim report of the oxygen audit panel appointed by the Supreme Court.


The average consumption of oxygen in Delhi was between 284 to 372 MT, said the report, added that “the excess supply of oxygen affected other states in need of oxygen”.


It further stated that four Delhi hospitals claimed high consumption of oxygen with fewer beds.


The report said that the Singhal Hospital, Aruna Asif Ali Hospital, ESIC Model Hospital Liferay Hospital had “claimed extremely high oxygen consumption with a very few beds the claims appeared to be erroneous, leading to extremely skewed information significantly higher oxygen requirement of the entire state of Delhi”.


The Petroleum Oxygen Safety Organization (PESO) told the sub-group that Delhi had surplus oxygen, which was affecting liquid medical oxygen (LMO) supply to other states apprehended that if excess oxygen was kept supplied to Delhi, it could lead to a national crisis.


It said that the data from the Delhi government showed the consumption of oxygen did not exceed 350 MT from April 29 to May 10.


On May 5, the Supreme Court, on the Delhi government’s request about oxygen shortage in the national capital, had directed the Central government to maintain a supply of 700 MT of oxygen to the national capital.

(Only the headline picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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SBI ATM cash withdrawal, cheque book charges to change from 1st July. Details here


For State Bank of India (SBI) customers, a lot of changes will be taking place with the change of month from 1st July 2021. The largest commercial bank in India is going to change its charges for ATM cash withdrawal, cash withdrawal from the branch cheque book. For Basic Savings Bank Deposit (BSBD) Accounts or SBI BSBD accounts, charges will be recovered beyond free 4 cash withdrawal transaction including ATM branch. Apart from this, SBI account holders will be exempted from any charges on first 10 cheque leaf only. For cheque leaf beyond this limit will be subject to charges going to become effective from 1st July 2021.

SBI cash withdrawal charges from branch

According to SBI, cash withdrawal both at branch ATM is limited now beyond that limit, there will be charges applied on the SBI account holder from 1st July 2021. From 1st July, 15 plus GST (Goods Services Tax) will be applicable on SBI customers on each cash withdrawal at branch channel or ATM beyond four free cash withdrawal.

SBI ATM withdrawal limit

On SBI ATM cash withdrawal rules going to become effective from 1st July 2021, the largest Indian commercial bank went on to add that 15 plus GST will be applicable on each transaction beyond four free transaction. Same charge will be levied on cash withdrawal from other than SBI ATM as well.

SBI cheque book charges

From 1st July 2021, SBI is going to limit cheque leaf usages from its BSBD account holders as well. The new SBI cheque book charges effective from 1st July says that one is allowed to use only 10 cheque leaf without any charges in a financial year. That means, a SBI BSBD account holder is allowed to use only 10 cheque leafs in one financial year. Using cheque leafs beyond this limit will be chargeable as below:

After use of first 10 cheque leafs:

1] Next 10 will be charged at 40 plus GST;

2] Next 25 will be charged 75 plus GST; and

3] 50 plus GST will be charged on Emergency Cheque Book for first 10 cheque leafs thereof.

However, senior citizens are exempted from this cheque book use limit.

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Women did three times as much childcare as men during coronavirus pandemic




Child care demands at home skyrocketed during the pandemic, but men women did not split the burden equally.


Globally, women took on 173 additional hours of unpaid child care last year, compared to 59 additional hours for men, a study released Friday by the Center for Global Development, a poverty non-profit, found. The gap widened in low- middle-income countries, where women cared for children for more than three times as many hours as men did.


Women have felt many of the pandemic’s worst economic effects, including an estimated $800 billion in lost income, in large part due to increased demands on their time at home. The Covid-19 recession unraveled gains in pay equality, female labor force participation unemployment, particularly among Black Latina women in the U.S. Global job loss rates among women were roughly 1.8 times larger than those among men, according to a McKinsey & Co. estimate. And as U.S. workers return to the office, mothers are more likely than fathers women without kids to stay out of work.


Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development one of the study’s authors, said the pandemic merely exposed existing gender disparities.


“Every year, year in year out, there are trillions of hours of unpaid care work being done, the considerable majority by women,” he said. “We are not going to get to a world that sees gender equality until that burden is more evenly shared.”


The study used figures from Unesco the OECD to measure the number of children home from school the average time men women in various countries spent on unpaid childcare before the pandemic. In India, where school closures added 176 billion hours of child care, the study estimated women took on more than 10 times the burden men did.


Some governments tried to help families with child care needs. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proposed a measure aiming to lower the cost of daycare to C$10 a day. Australian lawmakers are considering a budget that would pour A$1.7 billion into childcare subsidies, removing annual caps on support for many families increasing payments to families with multiple children. The U.S. government, for its part, allocated $53 billion to keep day care centers from closing during the pandemic.


In many places, those measures haven’t been enough to keep women from leaving the workplace or to get many of them back. And as economies reopen emergency budgets expire, Kenny warned that these disparities won’t disappear either.


“The exhaustion, the stresses on families—they don’t just go away when kids go back to school,” he said. “This could be something that has a fairly long shadow.”

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Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information commentary on developments that are of interest to you have wider political economic implications for the country the world. Your encouragement constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed updated with credible news, authoritative views incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

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