The American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) and Footwear Retailers and Distributors of America (FDRA) are among 12 trade organisations calling on Congress for the swift implementation of legislation – specifically the Shop Safe Act and the Inform Consumers Act – that establishes better rules for the secure and safe conduct of e-commerce in the United States to protect consumers from fakes and stolen goods sold via online marketplaces.
“Each bill introduces unique improvements in e-commerce that will immediately reduce unsafe and fraudulent consumer goods from being available and sold online to unsuspecting customers, who are unknowingly lining the pockets of unscrupulous sellers and organized criminals, and siphoning revenues from legitimate companies, workers and taxes that could go towards essential government and community services,” the group said in a letter to Congress.
“These bills are critical in their provision of new legal tools for online marketplaces, brand owners, and consumers to stop third-party sellers from offering counterfeit and stolen goods via e-commerce platforms. Specifically, The Inform Consumers Act requires new vetting, disclosure, and takedown responsibilities by e-commerce marketplaces for all consumer goods and establishes a regulatory mechanism administered and enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and at the state level by state attorney generals. Shop Safe establishes a strong incentive for online marketplaces to verify and vet third-party sellers. Importantly, it also requires platforms to enforce effective policies to expeditiously remove counterfeit listings that implicate health and safety and to terminate the accounts of repeat offenders.
“Our members work closely with e-commerce platforms to protect our customers, but the time has come to standardise the rules across all online marketplaces to make customers just as safe online as when they purchase goods from brick and mortar stores. Congressional passage of each of these bills – Shop Safe and Inform Consumers – would accomplish this goal.
“During Covid, e-commerce has exploded and, along with it, counterfeits, putting countless millions of hardworking American families in harm’s way, empowering organized crime, and stealing American jobs. Therefore, we urge that the bills be considered and passed this year.”
The Inform Act was introduced in October in an attempt to increase online marketplace transparency and accountability to combat the rapidly growing problem of fakes and stolen goods sold through these channels.
Fake products now account for 3.3% of global trade, which is negatively impacting economies, brands, and individuals, according to figures published by testing, inspection and certification company SGS, with clothing and footwear the most heavily bootlegged industry.
Counterfeiting and piracy cost the global economy around US$4.2 trillion a year, according to the data.