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Legislation moves on INFORM bill

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Senators Richard Durbin, Democrat, Illinois and Bill Cassidy, Republican, Louisiana have introduced legislation the past two Congresses called the INFORM Consumers Act, which would increase online marketplace transparency for consumers and ensure that marketplaces verify who their high-volume third-party sellers are. In an opinion piece penned by Sen. Durbin on Roll Call on Oct. 5, he outlines the bill and reasons for the legislation. If a consumer buys a product online that turns out to be stolen, fake or dangerous, they deserve to know who sold them that item. And marketplaces should not let that seller slip into the shadows and escape accountability.

The bill is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, as well as manufacturers and retailers who are tired of their products being counterfeited and stolen for online resale. But Amazon and the powerful online marketplace lobby say our bill is too onerous. They say that they already do a great job of policing who is selling what from where on their websites and that the best solution is to leave the status quo in place.

It is well documented that third parties are selling massive amounts of counterfeit, stolen and unsafe consumer products on online marketplaces. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative reported last year that the “rapid growth of e-commerce platforms has helped fuel the growth of counterfeit and pirated goods into a half trillion dollar industry.” Also last year, the Department of Homeland Security stated that such trafficked goods “threaten public health and safety, as well as national security.”

As The Wall Street Journal recently reported, law enforcement investigators say they struggle to obtain information from Amazon about shady sellers on their marketplace. 

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