BTHA backs Which? report on online marketplaces

Report calls for tougher regulation and greater powers of enforcement of online marketplaces.

The BTHA is supporting a Which? report launched yesterday (November 20) which calls for action to protect consumers from products sold via online marketplaces.

The BTHA has been in contact with Which? since the launch of its own report in June 2019, that is mentioned on page 8 of the Which? report. The BTHA supports the call for a robust legal framework that clarifies responsibilities in line with consumer expectations and effective compliance and enforcement by public authorities.

The BTHA agrees that while suppliers are ultimately responsible for ensuring that their products comply with product safety law and standards, online marketplaces need to take greater responsibility for ensuring that the products offered for sale on their sites are safe.

They also need to ensure that unsafe products are swiftly removed, and do not reappear, once they have been identified and that identical products are removed while the platforms investigate whether they are safe to sell. Regulation is needed to clarify these responsibilities, addressing the gaps in the current framework and ensuring that public authorities have adequate powers and tools to require action when consumers are put at risk.

“The BTHA has been campaigning for more regulation and enforcement powers for online marketplaces for the past year,” said Natasha Crookes, director of public affairs for the BTHA. “The BTHA’s own findings, released in June 2019, found 58% of toys sold by third party sellers on online marketplaces were illegal to sell in the UK and 22% of the toys we tested had safety issues.

“More needs to be done by the platform owners, the regulators and enforcement bodies to protect children from the dangers of unsafe products sold via these sellers on online markets. The BTHA therefore wholeheartedly supports the calls for action from Which?”

The BTHA supports the calls for action, particularly:

  • Online marketplaces should be required to ensure that consumer products offered for sale by sellers on their sites are safe.
  • There should be a requirement on online marketplaces to ensure that they remove any unsafe products they become aware of as swiftly as possible. The BTHA believes this timeframe should be a legal requirement.
  • The actions that are required by online marketplaces when unsafe products are identified should be clarified.
  • Enforcement officers should be equipped with appropriate powers, resources, investigatory skills and intelligence to police online marketplaces and platforms and the supply networks that underpin them.
  • There should be an obligation for marketplaces to ensure that traders listed on their sites are registered as a business and to provide details to the OPSS or relevant local authority of the online seller.
  • UK law should place a requirement on online marketplaces to make it clear to people whether they are buying from a trader, rather than another consumer and implement recently adopted EU law that requires this after EU exit.
  • Online marketplaces that also trade directly with consumers as their own brand should make sure that it is clear to people when they are buying from a seller who is a different trader.

 

The full Which? report can be read by clicking here.

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