After months of negotiations and significant grassroots engagement by eBay small businesses, we are pleased to share that US House Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9) and Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12) have introduced a new version of the INFORM Consumers Act which increases transparency, protects sellers and will provide one federal compliance standard. With these crucial substantive changes, eBay now supports the INFORM Consumer Act, and urges Congress to advance this legislation immediately.
For the last 18 months, big box retailers launched a coordinated effort throughout the states and at the federal level to make it more difficult for small businesses and entrepreneurs to sell goods through online marketplaces. The original version of the INFORM Consumers Act would have imposed burdensome and discriminatory collection of information requirements that would have harmed legitimate small businesses and entrepreneurs who sell on online marketplaces.
The revised INFORM Consumers Act no longer places onerous and burdensome requirements on individual and small business sellers. These significant modifications will improve the consumer buying process while protecting millions of American individuals and small businesses selling online. The revised language importantly provides federal preemption that will establish a federal standard while avoiding patchwork legislation in the states. In the context of the numerous anti-marketplace bills that exist at the state and federal levels, the new INFORM Consumers Act represents an agreed upon path forward to allow for a safe and transparent buying process, while also protecting individual and small business sellers.
Highlights of the updated INFORM Act:
- Removal of burdensome requirements: Marketplaces would no longer be required to collect sellers’ drivers license and other unnecessary information as a means of “verifying” who each seller is and how to contact them.
- eBay already has advanced trust and safety measures in place to verify the legitimacy of sellers on its platform.
- Timelines and requirements for seller verification have been extended so as to not burden sellers.
- Protects privacy of sellers: Sellers will no longer be required to disclose (next to each product listing) the full name, address, phone number, and email address of their business.
- eBay already provides a transparent online shopping process where a buyer knows who is selling each product, the seller's reviews and other items listed, where an item listed for sale is located, and a means to contact the seller directly.
- Federal Standard: The new INFORM Consumers Act contains a federal preemption standard which would prevent a patchwork of confusing state laws.
Federal Status: While eBay supports the new INFORM Consumers Act, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to prevent big box retailers and proponents of the original version of the bill from trying to make changes which would burden individual and small business sellers.
State Status: Legislation mirroring the federal INFORM Consumers Act has been introduced in 18 state legislatures in 2021. Nearly every state legislature that has taken up this type of legislation has rejected such proposals. One state - Arkansas - passed legislation due to aggressive lobbying by big box retailers.
eBay is committed to ensuring its platform is a trusted and safe marketplace for buyers and sellers. The new INFORM Consumers Act represents a good faith effort by Chairwoman Schakowsky and Ranking Member Bilirakis to enable a safe and transparent online buying process. As this bill moves through the legislative process, we will be sure to keep you up to date on any changes. If the bill is ever signed into law, we will work to help explain any changes which might impact eBay’s seller community. For more information related to eBay’s efforts to maintain a safe and trusted platform, please consult eBay’s 2020 Global Transparency Report.