Online marketplaces press lawmakers on language in China competition bill

A group of online marketplaces has written a letter to several lawmakers in hopes of urging them to tweak the language of new China competition bills. 

The Coalition to Protect America’s Small Sellers (PASS) in its letter sent Thursday the expressed its concern over a set of bills that it said will “harm consumers, disadvantage medium and smaller-sized businesses, and disrupt thousands of legitimate websites.” 

The set of bills includes the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act and the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA). 

PASS is a coalition made up of online marketplaces including eBay, Etsy, Poshmark, Redbubble, and Pinterest. 

“We are the Coalition to Protect America’s Small Sellers (PASS), and our member companies enable individuals and casual sellers, entrepreneurs, creators, makers, and small businesses of all types to sell goods to buyers from all over the world,” the coalition said in its letter. 

“Our model of Internet-powered commerce has led to one of the greatest expansions of creative expression and entrepreneurial growth in human history,” it added. “We are committed to providing a safe, secure, and convenient location for eCommerce, economic activity, and the empowerment of American micro, small, and medium-sized businesses.”

The coalition requested that the group of lawmakers remove the Shop Safe Act, arguing that the proposed bill is “one-sided” and designed to help large businesses to beat out fellow competition under a false pretense of protecting “health and safety” protocols, also noting serious privacy concerns and limits on small business sellers.

PASS also requested the removal of a section in the USICA Act, saying that the Country-of-Origin Labeling Act (COOL) section part will make it impossible for American small and microbusinesses to sell products online, the letter said. 

The letter was addressed to Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), a member of the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee, and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas.) and Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), both of whom are members of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. 

The coalition also mentioned in the letter its support of the INFORM Act, saying that the bill protects consumers from potential counterfeit products and makes online shopping safer, noting that the bill has gained major support from fellow organizations and lawmakers. 

“INFORM is a smart policy that went through a thorough legislative process to strike a balanced approach to making eCommerce better for both consumers and sellers,” the coalition wrote in the letter.  “Thank you for your consideration of our priorities for the Conference. We stand ready to work with you on all of these important matters.”