Big Retailers Pushing Legislation To Harm Online Retailers
from the why-compete-when-you-can-legislate? dept
Why should you compete with new technological innovations when you can just get elected officials to pass laws that greatly limit what those innovations can do? That seems to be the position of the National Retail Federation, the trade group that represents a bunch of the big offline retailers. We wrote about their attempt to do this last year, where they went so far as to claim (and then stand behind) that eBay was driving people to shoplift. Supposedly, selling stuff on eBay was just so addictive that once people ran out of their own stuff to sell on eBay, they would all rush to the nearest big box store to shoplift. That, of course, is totally bogus and not at all backed up by the facts. But who needs facts when you have politicians willing to do your bidding? The NRF's statement was so hilarious, we can't resist republishing it:
The amusing thing is that, last year, when these same bills were introduced, the retailers were asked why they couldn't just do a better job policing their stores for shoplifting -- and the retailers replied that their employees were there to sell stuff, not to be police officers. Yet, the very purpose of these laws is to make that impossible for online retail services. It forces them all to be police officers, or face tremendous liability. It's no secret that it's tough to compete with new online services, but that's no excuse for passing bogus laws to harm those online players.
"Thieves often tell the same disturbing story: they begin legitimately selling product on eBay and then become hooked by its addictive qualities, the anonymity it provides and the ease with which they gain exposure to millions of customers. When they run out of legitimate merchandise, they begin to steal intermittently, many times for the first time in their life, so they can continue selling online. The thefts then begin to spiral out of control and before they know it they quit their jobs, are recruiting accomplices and are crossing states lines to steal, all so they can support and perpetuate their online selling habit."While the three laws proposed last year went nowhere, it didn't take long for all three to be introduced again. The intended purpose of these three laws is to force these online platforms to interrogate every seller over every product they put online for sale. It goes against everything that's the basis of section 230 rules for online platforms, in that it says "you're not the tool someone uses, now you're liable for everything that happens with the tool." This is not, at all, about stopping crazy eBay addicts from shoplifting from big box stores. This is about making it tougher for people to buy and sell stuff online so that more people are forced to trek out to their local offline retailer to buy stuff.