EBay, Poshmark And Others Say Anti-Counterfeiting Bill 'Unworkable'

A bill that aims to crack down on the sale of online counterfeits would not only harm consumers' privacy, but would also hinder vendors who sell used or handmade items, Pinterest, Etsy and other online marketplaces say.

The SHOP SAFE Act (Stopping Harmful Offers on Platforms by Screening Against Fakes in E-Commerce) Act ) “is a one-sided bill designed to help the largest global brand holders stifle competition under a false pretense of protecting 'health and safety,” the Coalition to Protect America's Small Sellers said Thursday in a letter to lawmakers. The coalition's members include eBay, Pinterest, Etsy and Poshmark.

The bill would hold companies like eBay and Etsy liable for contributing to trademark infringement when their platforms are used by third parties to sell counterfeits, unless the companies take specific steps in advance. Those steps would include verifying sellers' identities, and screening merchandise to authenticate it.

The coalition argues that forcing sellers to prove their identities raises “serious privacy concerns,” given that the requirement would require “casual sellers of used goods to upload their personal information including government issued IDs to engage online.”

eBay and the others add that pre-screening requirements are unworkable, particularly for platforms that allow consumers to sell used or handmade goods, or that host content created by consumers.

“The bill treats casual sellers of used goods and local artisans the same as global manufacturers,” the group writes, adding that it's “impossible to screen millions of individual pieces of content.”

The group is urging lawmakers to revise the legislation in several ways, including by making accommodations for people who sell used or handmade goods, and creating an exemption for small sellers.

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