Coalition Letter to U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers
April 20, 2021
The Honorable Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Committee on Energy and Commerce
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Republican Leader McMorris Rodgers:
The members of the Buy Safe America Coalition applaud the legislative concepts outlined in the recent memo related to your “Big Tech Accountability Platform.” Our Coalition looks forward to working with you and the rest of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s (“Committee”) members to address the concepts outlined, especially those related to the growing threat of counterfeit products.
The Buy Safe America Coalition consists of a diverse group of responsible retailers, consumer groups, manufacturers, intellectual property advocates, and law enforcement officials who support efforts at all levels of government to protect consumers and communities from the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods. This diverse group of members represents automakers, toy manufacturers, wholesalers - distributors, shopping centers, and retailers in the home improvement, apparel, footwear, power tools, sporting goods, and beauty and health industries, to name a few.
We applaud many of the legislative concepts that have been outlined in respect to your Platform. In particular, we strongly support subsection “a” of Legislative Concept 2:
“Require Big Tech companies to implement and maintain reasonable moderation practices to address illegal drug sales; child exploitation, including child pornography and trafficking; targeted harassment or bullying of users under the age of 18; terrorism; counterfeit products and materials on their platforms; and all other illegal content on their platforms.”
The importance of this concept, especially as it relates to counterfeit and illegal content on online platforms, cannot be overstated. The sale of stolen and counterfeit goods represents a serious threat to both businesses and consumers and has grown rapidly as third-party marketplaces have increased in size and influence with record numbers of Americans have turned to online shopping. Criminal networks are taking advantage of the rapid escalation of online shopping amid the COVID-19 pandemic to peddle counterfeit, stolen, defective, harmful, and dangerous products to unsuspecting consumers. According to a January 2020 report by the Department of Homeland Security, the annual cost of counterfeit and pirated goods being sold in the U.S. is over $500 billion. Lack of verification and transparency on online marketplaces have made these sites attractive to criminal networks that are endangering consumers, hurting legitimate businesses, and devaluing American brands.
The problem is widespread, impacting every community and virtually every retail category. For example, an organized retail crime network was indicted in a $12 million scheme that sold stolen electronics and ink cartridges on Amazon and eBay, and another multi-million dollar shoplifting ring was caught stealing items, such as over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and beauty supplies. There are countless published accounts of faulty and defective infant car seats, strollers, bike helmets, car brake pads, air bags and toys that have injured a child, parent, or family member. In recent months government officials have caught scam artists flooding online marketplaces with knockoff personal protective equipment (PPE). U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Chicago seized over 65,000 counterfeit 3M N95 masks just last month. And now, criminals are selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards on eBay.
And the impact of counterfeit goods extends far beyond what meets the eye. Many of the issues outlined in your Committee’s memo – including illegal drug sales, child exploitation, and terrorism– were found to be connected to criminal networks selling counterfeit and stolen goods in a 2020 DHS report.
We continue to be encouraged by your call for members to work across the aisle to find solutions and make meaningful changes to problems that pose risks to our families, communities, and workers including empowering the Federal Trade Commission to take actions when protections have been violated. As such, we urge you to work with Rep. Schakowsky to bring much needed transparency and accountability to online marketplaces though the Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM) Act – a common-sense, bipartisan solution to a growing American safety and economic threat. By shining a light on the lack of verification and transparency of third-party sellers on these platforms, you can help deter fraudsters from using them to prop up nefarious activities.
Again, we applaud your recent memo outlining key legislative concepts for your “Big Tech Accountability Platform,” especially those related to the growing threat of counterfeit products. We look forward to working directly with you, your staff, and every member of the Committee to prioritize much-needed safety measures to online marketplaces.
Spokesperson for Buy Safe America Coalition
The Buy Safe America Coalition represents a diverse group of responsible retailers, consumer groups, manufacturers, intellectual property advocates and law enforcement officials who support efforts at all levels of government to protect consumers and communities from the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods.
Discover More About the Coalition
The Buy Safe America Coalition represents a diverse group of responsible retailers, consumer groups, manufacturers, intellectual property advocates, and law enforcement officials who support efforts to protect consumers and communities from the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods.Learn More
The marketplace today for common, everyday goods is flooded with counterfeit and stolen products. Absent reform, legitimate businesses, and consumers will continue to be harmed.Learn More
Frequently Asked Questions
What constitutes a counterfeit product? Why aren’t major online marketplaces doing more? Answers to common questions around the issue of organized retail crime.Learn More