It has just become harder for American consumers to buy dangerous consumer products online.
China’s Alibaba Group, the world’s largest e-commerce company with more than 300 million users, has agreed to block the sale of recalled products to consumers located in the United States.
Alibaba’s agreement with the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the culmination of negotiations that began in November 2014. Eliminating online access to dangerous products has become a centerpiece of new CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye’s admin-istration.
Initially, the CPSC will provide Alibaba with a list of up to 15 products that have been recalled in the United States, such as Buckyballs, a magnetic desk toy; the Nap Nanny Instant Recliner; and lawn darts. The list will then be added to as deemed necessary.
Other terms of the agreement include the Alibaba Group providing product safety information for American importers on company platforms and Alibaba will also create access points on its Business to Business (B2B) platform that take importers to the US safety standards for higher risk consumer products.
Chairman Kaye announced the collaboration while attending the Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair. “With an increasing number of companies and consumers taking their business online, Alibaba’s decision to implement these new policies is a victory for U.S. consumers and their safety. The company’s forward leaning approach in this regard will help prevent dangerous and
recalled products from being passed on to unsuspecting consumers.”
The agreement is completely voluntary and not legally enforceable. However, CPSC spokesman
Scott Wolfson told The Huntington Post that Chairman Kaye “will attempt to use his influence to make sure Alibaba fulfills their end of the agreement. They worked in good faith with us, so there’s a full understanding of what his expectations are.”
Chairman Kaye adds: “We’re not a very patient lot, and if it doesn’t happen pretty quickly, then they’ll be hearing from us. We’re certainly going to hold their feet to the fire.” Kaye also dismissed concerns in some quarters regarding the precedent of Internet regulation. “From my perpective, there’s enough known good that will result from this that if it turns out there are unfortunate side effects, we will try to work to ameliorate those.”Alibaba Group’s Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs.
Noord observed the company’s agreement to make available information about safety requirements to importers into the United States is the most interesting aspect of the voluntary pact.
“U.S. safety requirements are not easily understood, especially those issued since 2009 in response to the CPSIA—see the labyrinthine regulations dealing with testing and certification for examples. Any way to get information to those who are honestly trying to comply can do nothing but help,” Noord added.