Europe Prompts e-Commerce Platforms to Share Information in Fight Versus Coronavirus Scams

European lawmakers are pressing significant e-commerce and media platforms to share more information with each other as a tool to battle rogue traders who are targeting customers with coronavirus scams.

After the pandemic infect the West, web platforms were flooded with local ads for PPE of unknown and/or dubious quality and other suspicious coronavirus deals– even after some of the companies banned such advertising.

The concern here is not only customers being ripped off but the genuine threat of harm if individuals purchase a product that does not use the defense claimed against exposure to the virus or perhaps get sold a phony coronavirus “cure” when none in fact exists.

In a statement today, Didier Reynders, the EU commissioner for justice, stated: “We understand from our earlier experience that fraudsters see this pandemic as a chance to deceive European customers. We also understand that working with major online platforms is crucial to safeguard consumers from their prohibited practices. Today I motivated the platforms to join forces and take part in a peer-to-peer exchange to additional strengthen their response. We need to be much more agile throughout the 2nd wave presently hitting Europe.”

The Commission said Reynders fulfilled with 11 online platforms today– consisting of Amazon, Alibaba/AliExpress, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft/Bing, Rakuten and (TechCrunch’s parent entity) Verizon Media/Yahoo– to go over new trends and service practices linked to the pandemic and press the tech companies to do more to avoid a new wave of COVID-19 scams.

In March this year, EU Member States’ consumer defense authorities adopted a common position on the concern. The Commission and a pan-EU network of customer protection enforcers have been in routine contact with the 11 platforms considering that than to push for a collaborated reaction to the danger presented by coronavirus rip-offs.

The Commission declares the action has resulted in the platforms reporting the elimination of “hundreds of millions” of unlawful offers and ads. It also states they have confirmed what it refers to as “a consistent decrease” in new coronavirus-related listings, without offering more comprehensive data.

In Europe, tighter regulations over what e-commerce platforms sell are boiling down the pipeline.

Next month regional lawmakers are set to unveil a bundle of legislation that will propose updates to existing e-commerce guidelines and objectives to increase their legal obligations, consisting of around unlawful content and harmful products.

In a speech last week, Commission EVP Margrethe Vestager, who heads up the bloc’s digital policy, said the Digital Solutions Act (DSA) will need platforms to take more obligation for dealing with prohibited content and dangerous items, consisting of by standardizing procedures for reporting illegal content and dealing with reports and grievances connected to the content.

A second legislative bundle that’s also due next month– the Digital Markets Act– will introduce additional rules for a sub-set of platforms thought-about to hold a dominant market position. This could include requirements that they make information offered to competitors, with the aim of promoting competitors in digital markets.

MEPs have likewise pressed for a “understand your service customer” principle to be included in the DSA.

Simultaneously, the Commission has been pressing for social networks platforms to open up about what it explained in June as a coronavirus “infodemic”– in a quote to punish COVID-19-related disinformation.

Today the Commission gave an upgrade on actions taken in the month of September by Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and TikTok to combat coronavirus disinformation– publishing its third set of keeping track of reports. Thierry Breton, a commissioner for the internal market, said more needs to be done there too.

“Viral dispersing of disinformation related to the pandemic puts our people’s health and wellness at danger. We require even more powerful cooperation with online platforms in the coming weeks to eliminate disinformation successfully,” he said in a statement.

The platforms are signatories of the EU’s (non-legally binding) Code of Practice on disinformation.

Legally binding transparency guidelines for platforms on taking on material such as prohibited hate speech appearance set to be part of the DSA plan. Though it stays to be seen how the fuzzier concern of “hazardous material” (such as disinformation connected to a public health crisis) will be tackled.

A European Democracy Action Strategy to resolve the disinformation problem is likewise slated prior to completion of the year.

In a pointed remark accompanying the Commission’s newest tracking reports today, Vera Jourov√°, VP for values and openness, stated: “Platforms should step up their efforts to become more transparent and accountable. We need a better framework to assist them to do the ideal thing.”