The Case for a (European?) Law of Reputational Feedback Systems
35 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2021
Date Written: July 2021
Reputational feedback systems are essential in the digital economy, as tools to build trust among traders and consumers and help the latter to make better choices. Although the number of platforms using such systems is growing, some aspects undermine their reliability, endangering the proper functioning of the market. In this context, it might be convenient to create a “law of reputational feedback systems” – a comprehensive set of rules specifically aimed at online reviews and ratings, and possibly at the European Union level with the goal of contributing to develop the digital single market. This paper aims at fostering a debate on the matter. First, it presents how important reputational feedback systems are and the weaknesses they are affected by. Then, it addresses the fragmentation argument that favours legal harmonisation, without forgetting that harmonisation has downsides, too. Afterwards, some possible rules are envisaged, considering academic or institutional initiatives and norms that already exist. Finally, to balance the discussion, this paper also offers arguments to support that further regulating reputational feedback systems, or at least doing it at the European level, could be a step in the wrong direction.
Keywords: Reputational feedback systems, Consumer reviews, User ratings, Online platforms, Legal harmonisation
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