Luckily, there is a legislative solution making its way through Congress now that would insert transparency and accountability into third-party online marketplaces to help obstruct criminals who today use these platforms to anonymously fence their stolen and counterfeit products.
STATE OF PLAY
The Senate passed the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) last year. The House passed its version, the America COMPETES Act, in February. Both bills have similar and different provisions so the two bills must be reconciled – meaning members of the House and Senate are actually going to have to sit down and find a compromise. For example, the House COMPETES Act includes the INFORM Consumers Act and the Senate bill does not so the Senate and House conferees will need to decide whether to include INFORM or not. This is just one ofthe many differences that remain and the nitty gritty of negotiating toward a final product is just beginning.
A formal House/Senate conference hasn’t happened in over a decade or more so members of Congress and the public are rusty in exactly how it works. Let’s try to boil it down.
In order to start a conference, the Senate received the House COMPETES bill and in a procedural move deleted the entire text of the bill and reinserted the Senate’s USICA language. Then they voted 68 – 28 to send the bill back to the House. The House has started the process of objecting to the Senate action and calling for a formal conference. The House and Senate leadership will then appoint conferees (soon) who will be responsible for hashing out the differences. There are six Senate committees and eleven House committees that have jurisdiction over the legislation, and it is expected that those committee chairs and ranking members will begin negotiating their respective provisions, which will then be combined into a final conferenced product.
The White House has set a goal for Congress to complete this process by May 31, though Congressional leaders are aiming for July 4th as a more realistic deadline.
WHY IT MATTERS
The INFORM Consumers Act is key to stopping the flood of stolen and counterfeit goods being sold on third-party marketplaces. Absent reform, consumers, legitimate businesses and valued American brands employing millions of workers will continue to be harmed.
A broad range of industries recognize INFORM as the most effective legislative solution to this problem, including retailers, consumer groups, leading online marketplaces, small online sellers, law enforcement, and manufacturers. Simply put, it is a bipartisan, commonsense approach to ensuring consumers, businesses, and the U.S. economy are protected from criminal enterprises operating on third-party marketplaces.
RILA will continue to work with our members and partners to advocate for passage of the INFORM Consumers Act. U.S. consumers deserve to shop safely, and U.S. businesses must be able to compete fairly in today’s marketplace.
Keeping Communities Safe
Organized Retail Crime