Legislation backed by major retailers requiring marketplaces to collect, verify, and disclose seller information continues to be an important issue under consideration by lawmakers in Congress and in state legislatures across the country. The legislation, known as the INFORM Consumers Act, has undergone substantial changes since it was first introduced. While the original version of this legislation would have imposed burdensome information collection and disclosure requirements for small businesses and individuals, eBay led efforts to vastly improve the bill to provide a nationwide standard that strikes an appropriate balance that provides transparency for consumers while also protecting seller privacy.
eBay supports the federal INFORM legislation, and while we remain opposed to a state-by-state patchwork of differing requirements, it has been productive to see many states adopting the federal compromise framework. A summary of recent activity at the federal and state levels follows below.
Last fall, US Representatives Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) and Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) introduced a new and compromised version of the INFORM Consumers Act. The new version of INFORM increases transparency, protects sellers’ privacy, and will provide one federal compliance standard for online sellers. We are grateful that Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) have supported updated INFORM language that mirrors the House version. This compromise bill language has broad support across industry stakeholders and consumer groups. The bill was included as part of a broader legislative package that passed the US House in February 2022 and may be included in a final deal on American innovation and competitiveness. We will continue to push for enactment of the federal legislation to create a national framework and avoid a patchwork of state laws.
More than half the country – 28 states – has considered INFORM legislation in 2022 with eight states having enacted bills, including Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio, and Oklahoma. Most of the newly enacted state INFORM laws have generally aligned with the federal legislation, though some versions have deviated from the compromise approach. These differing state laws underscore the need for one national standard to avoid burdening millions of small businesses and entrepreneurs using online marketplaces to reach customers. Fortunately, most of the harmful legislation based on the older version of INFORM considered in states was rejected or substantially amended after state legislators heard directly from thousands of eBay sellers about their privacy and safety concerns posed by the legislation, let alone the harm their to their small businesses.
eBay is committed to ensuring its platform is a trusted and safe marketplace for buyers and sellers. The federal INFORM Consumers Act represents a good faith effort to enable a safe and transparent online buying process. As such, we will continue to work with legislators to oppose harmful state legislation and support enactment of the federal INFORM bill. For more information related to eBay’s efforts to maintain a safe and trusted platform, please consult eBay’s Global Transparency Report.