Tuesday, 18 January 2022 11:42

The Florida Retail Federation Praises Senate Committee's Support for Online Marketplace Transparency in Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 18, 2022
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SB 944 Passed Its First Committee, Senate Commerce & Tourism, 9-0

Tallahassee, FL – The Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism unanimously passed Senate Bill 944, Online Marketplace Transparency, by Senator Dennis Baxley today during its first committee hearing. 

SB 944 is a priority of Florida’s retail industry. The legislation will inform and protect consumers from the sale of fraudulent goods in Florida while cracking down on organized retail crime. 

Currently, most online platforms do not require identification and are not monitored for criminal activity. As a result, these platforms have been misused by criminals to anonymously sell stolen merchandise and illicit goods to unsuspecting consumers in Florida. 

“Criminals are using the anonymity of online platforms to create fake accounts and sell counterfeit merchandise to take advantage of unsuspecting customers,” explained Senator Baxley.  “Florida can’t wait. We can be the trendsetter that is going to close the door on this type of encouragement of retail theft. We need to attack it at the systemic level which is the marketplace listings. People will behave differently if they know they are at high risk of being discovered. It’s time to close the door.”

The legislation would provide electronic and telephonic reporting and also require messaging to encourage individuals to report suspicious activity to online marketplaces.

During Tuesday's meeting, Grace Lovett, Vice President of Government Affairs of the Florida Retail Federation, testified 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. 

"Online marketplace transparency will not only inform and protect Florida consumers it will also support Florida businesses," said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. "Local retailers who have suffered at the hands of organized retail crime rings will be protected through this good legislation. We are grateful to Senator Baxley for spearheading this bill."

Both bills will ensure the safe purchase of quality goods online and aid consumers to identify and verify the third-party seller on online marketplaces. 

SB 944 is scheduled to be heard next in the Senate Committee on Community Affairs. 

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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