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Wednesday, 02 March 2022 12:38

Senate Committee Advances Online Marketplace Transparency Measure to Protect Florida Consumers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 2, 2022
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Senate Bill 944 Passed the Senate Committee on Rules

Tallahassee, FL – The Senate Committee on Rules passed Senate Bill 944, Online Marketplace Transparency, by Senator Dennis Baxley on Tuesday.

SB 944 implements verification requirements to protect consumers from the online sale of fraudulent goods in Florida. The bill fights against organized retail crime rings utilizing online marketplaces to sell stolen items. 

"The anonymity of online marketplaces has long been exploited by those who seek to profit from retail theft," said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. "Whether shopping online or in a store, Floridians deserve to know that the products they buy are safe and from reputable sources. This legislation will play an important role in protecting consumers and combatting organized retail crime."

Online platforms have been misused by criminals to anonymously sell stolen merchandise and illicit goods to unsuspecting consumers. 

“Criminals are using the anonymity of online marketplace platforms to create the appearance of a legitimate business,” said Senator Baxley. “They create fake accounts. They flood the marketplace with stolen or counterfeit merchandise and take advantage of unsuspecting customers. This bill is meant to modernize the statutes that give our Attorney General the tools to enforce these laws.”

SB 944 helps ensure the safe purchase of quality goods online and aid consumers by requiring the verification of third-party sellers on online marketplaces. The bill requires data privacy and security measures to protect seller information from being utilized or shared once the verification process is complete.

If passed, the bill will also allow the consumer a direct line of communication to either the seller or the online marketplace.

On Tuesday, Grace Lovett, Vice President of Government Affairs of the Florida Retail Federation, waived in support of this legislation to promote safe online marketplaces for consumers and businesses. 

SB 944 and its companion,  HB 1227 by Representative Jackie Toledo, is similar to the  federal legislation known as the Integrity Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) for Consumers Act. 

The bill will advance to the Senate floor next for discussion. 

ABOUT  THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
The Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide one out of every five jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year.

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