The German Federal Cartel Office has launched a sector inquiry into user ratings in the
Internet initiated. Research and media reports repeatedly point out that user ratings on the Internet are not authentic in many cases, for example because they were generated by a computer or because the rater received a service in return without this being made transparent. (see this judgment). When consumers are led to make false business decisions based on non-authentic reviews
decisions, this may constitute a consumer law violation.
In the coming months, the Bundeskartellamt will question numerous operators of Internet portals that display user ratings and/or offer services on user ratings, both verbally and in writing. Once the investigation is complete, the results will be presented to the public in a report.
The Bundeskartellamt can conduct investigations in the area of consumer protection and thus identify any infringements and possible deficits in law enforcement. However, this does not yet include the authority to remedy any infringements of the law that are discovered by means of an official order. The sector inquiry into user ratings is already the Bundeskartellamt’s third sector inquiry in the area of consumer protection following the already completed inquiry into comparison portals and the ongoing inquiry into smart TVs.