Last week, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., were able to get their “ Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM Consumers) Act” through the U.S. House.
The bill “directs online marketplaces to verify the identity of high-volume third-party sellers of consumer products,” which, supporters insist, “will help deter organized retail crime rings who seek to sell stolen or counterfeit goods online” and “will also benefit consumers by providing them with basic identification and contact information for the high-volume third-party sellers.”
After moving through the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee at the start of the week, the full House approved the bill without opposition on Thursday.
“For too long, criminals have raked in profits by selling dangerous, counterfeit, and stolen products online. Consumers deserve to shop with the peace of mind that they get what they pay for. Today, we took a stand for consumers and said enough is enough,” said Schakowsky. “The INFORM Consumers Act, which I introduced with my friend Rep. Gus Bilirakis, passed the House with bipartisan support, and will protect consumers and legitimate businesses by holding online marketplaces accountable. We must protect Americans online. I urge the Senate to swiftly pass this bill.”
“This pro-consumer legislation enacts uniform, nationwide rules to promote safety, increase transparency, and provide greater accountability for online sales. It will provide a layer of enhanced protections for consumers from stolen and counterfeit goods without adding undue burdens on small mom-and-pop businesses,” said Bilirakis. “This bill is a win-win for consumers and legitimate businesses in the online marketplace.”
The congressman’s office offered some of the reasons as to why he championed the bill.
“Along with the rise in popularity of online marketplaces like Amazon, Facebook, and eBay, there has been an increase of stolen, counterfeit, and dangerous consumer products offered for sale online to consumers. Currently, it is relatively easy for third-party sellers to go onto an online marketplace, create an account, sell high volumes of illicit goods to unwitting consumers, and then shut down the account and disappear before facing any accountability,” Bilirakis’ office noted. “The INFORM Consumers Act would require online marketplaces to verify the identity of their high-volume third-party sellers of consumer products by obtaining and verifying information including the seller’s name, tax ID, bank account information, and contact information. The bill would also direct online marketplaces to ensure that consumers have sufficient information so they can identify and contact a high-volume third-party seller who has sold them consumer products. The online marketplace would also have to provide a way for customers to report to the marketplace suspicious marketplace activity such as the selling of stolen or counterfeit goods.”
Attention now turns to the U.S. Senate, where U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is championing the bill. Nine senators have lined up to back the bill including U.S. Sens. Christopher Coons, D-Del., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla. The bill has been before the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee since March 2021.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, AFL-CIO, the Fraternal Order of Police, U.S. PIRG, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the Toy Association, the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributers, the Coalition to Protect America’s Small Sellers and many other groups are backing the proposal.
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