Over the past year, big box retailers have aggressively pushed a coordinated effort throughout the country to make it more difficult for small businesses and entrepreneurs to sell goods through online marketplaces like eBay. These proposals would require online marketplaces to collect, verify and disclose seller information. The original version of the INFORM Consumers Act would have imposed burdensome and discriminatory collection requirements that would have harmed legitimate small businesses and entrepreneurs who sell on online marketplaces. While eBay remains opposed to a state-by-state patchwork of differing requirements, we do support the updated federal INFORM language.
At the federal level, we worked closely with US Representatives Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) and Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) to introduce a new version of the INFORM Consumers Act in October. This new bill increases transparency, protects sellers and will provide one federal compliance standard for online sellers. We were also pleased to see Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced updated INFORM language that mirrors the House version. This updated bill language has broad support across industry stakeholders and consumer groups. While this bill has not yet passed, we will continue to push for it in 2022 to create a common sense federal framework and avoid a patchwork of state laws. If passed, this federal bill will preempt all state bills.
At the state level, we spent 2021 advocating on behalf of sellers against legislation closely resembling the older, harmful version of the INFORM Consumers Act in over 20 states. Nearly every state legislature that has taken up this type of legislation has rejected such proposals, particularly after legislators heard directly from thousands of eBay sellers located in their districts about the valid privacy and safety concerns posed by the legislation. Despite consensus by consumer groups, retailers, and online marketplaces around a federal approach to this issue, major retailers and their state retail associations are actively lobbying for conflicting state INFORM legislation and are expected to continue those efforts in 2022.
As always, eBay is committed to ensuring its platform is a trusted and safe marketplace for buyers and sellers. As such, we will continue to work with legislators in 2022 to oppose harmful state legislation and support passage of the federal INFORM bill—a proposal that will improve the consumer buying process while protecting millions of American individuals and small businesses selling online. For more information related to eBay’s efforts to maintain a safe and trusted platform, please consult eBay’s 2020 Global Transparency Report.