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Inability to Curb Unfair Trade Practices May Invite Government Regulation: Union Warns Indian Ed-Tech Regulator

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs told ed-tech companies to rein in their malpractices through self-regulation to avoid it stepping in amid the sector’s boom

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs (MCA) warned Indian ed-tech companies on Friday that if industry self-regulation failed to curb unfair trade practices, then the government would formulate ‘stringent guidelines’ that foster transparency in the sector. The salvo was issued at a meeting held in New Delhi, between Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary of the Department of Consumer Affairs, and the India Ed-Tech Consortium (IEC).  Announced on January 12th of this year, the IEC is an autonomous, self-regulatory body for the ed-tech industry. It operates under the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The meeting was attended by IAMAI representatives and IEC members, including the likes of Byju’s, Vedantu, Unacademy, Great Learning, upGrad, WhiteHat Jr, and Sunstone. According to the Ministry, its members represent 95% of India’s 'learner community'.  During the meeting, stakeholders shared the IEC's progress toward improving consumer awareness and welfare. Issues discussed by the Secretary prominently included the alleged unfair trade practices used by some Indian ed-tech companies, fake reviews of ed-tech products, as well as misleading advertising campaigns.  Why it matters: Ed-tech companies in India have been consistently criticized for business malpractices—such as misleading ads, aggressive sales tactics, and censorship—that reportedly come at the cost of parents and children seeking online educational services. According to the Advertising Standards Council of India’s (ASCI) ‘Complaint Insights Report 2021-2022’, the education sector was the biggest violator of its self-regulatory advertising code.  Pointing out that these practices ‘do not seem to conform to prevalent guidelines and existing regulations,’ the Secretary added that the…

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