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New eBay Regulatory Portal to protect consumers

By Chris Dawson May 10, 2021 - 10:49 am

eBay have announced the successful pilot of a new eBay Regulatory Portal, as part of their longstanding commitment to consumer safety. The online portal allows participating authorities to flag and take down a listing, outside of the existing consumer reporting facility on site.

This facility is in addition to eBay’s own extensive reporting system and proactive efforts to remove prohibited items and enforce its existing policies. The way I’m viewing this is that it’s a bit like eBay have VERO for IP protections and now they have the regulatory portal for prohibited items.

What type of listings might be removed?

You’re probably not going to be impacted by this, unless you’re selling banned products such as ivory, in which case you should know better. So long as you are selling regular items you probably won’t hear about the eBay Regulatory Portal again, but if you dabble into the world of prohibited items then now enforcement outside the world of user reporting can get your listing removed.

Another example is that Ofcom will use the portal as part of its work to tackle the sale and use of equipment that does not meet the regulatory standards and therefore cannot be sold in the UK. There are regulations covering the making available of certain types of wireless equipment to ensure they do not interfere with other wireless communications so if you’re selling kit that’s not approved in the UK that might also be taken down.

With Westminster City Council Trading Standards, Ofcom, the Office for Product and Safety Standards (OPSS), and over 50 other authorities around the world already onboarded, the platform has entered its beta phase. eBay is inviting selected trusted authorities from around the globe to join the taskforce, as part of the essential cooperation needed between governments, authorities, and online marketplaces to ensure consumers can stay safe shopping online.

As the first online marketplace, and one of the world’s largest, eBay has long-standing policies in place by which it governs its site, and a global team of experts working across multiple continents to take down any listings which breach these policies. eBay’s policies have always been informed and developed by consulting and cooperating with agencies and authorities in various fields.

eBay Regulatory Portal Listing procedure

Now eBay is going one step further, as it gives selected trusted authorities the ability to take down any listings from the marketplace themselves, where they have evidence of a risk to consumer safety, without needing approval from eBay. Eliminating the need for a second level of approval streamlines the process, making product removal more efficient and reducing the risk of harmful products being purchased.

Further functionalities, including the ability to communicate with buyers and sellers through the platform, are to be developed over the coming months.

You’re probably going to want to know what happens when an item is removed… well first up yes there could potentially be sanctions placed on your account depending on the policy and violation history. Secondly, if you want to appeal then you will need to contact the authority directly to further discuss the issue. If they are not sure which authority to contact, you should contact eBay who will point them in the right direction

“This is an exciting step forward for eBay, globally. We are immensely proud of our longstanding and trusted relationship with many Governments, authorities, and NGOs around the world, and this year we are taking the cooperation further, to up the ante with our consumer protection measures.

There are many challenges which come with policing a marketplace, and while this has always been a priority for us, teamwork between the government, authorities, and marketplaces is needed to ensure consumers can stay safe shopping online.”
– Wolfgang Weber, Global Head of Regulatory, eBay

“The last year has seen an acceleration towards an increasingly digital age, and with online shopping becoming an even greater part of everyone’s lives, we’re pleased to announce this worldwide collaboration where all parties can work towards a common goal of keeping our valued community safe.

“Marketplaces should be taking their responsibility for consumer safety seriously, but collaboration with authorities is vital, and we are proud to be beginning the year with a focus on this. We hope that other players in the industry will follow suit and we can tackle the issue as an industry.”
– Murray Lambell, General Manager, eBay UK

“With covid-19 driving much of our shopping online this past year, our role as a local authority in protecting our residents from scams and fraud has had to make a similar switch to the digital world.

By working collaboratively with some of the biggest online shopping sources like eBay UK, our Trading Standards teams have been able to expedite our processes and ensure that our local communities can continue to be safe and have peace of mind when browsing marketplaces and ordering products online.”
– Cllr Heather Acton, Cabinet Member for Communities & Regeneration, Westminster Council

  • Mike Roberston
    7 months ago

    They still need to do something about the thousands of fake Nintendo games I see listed on there week in, week out. Sometimes not easy to spot at a glance, I will give you that. But anyone who knows what they are looking at can spot fakes fairly easily. It makes me angry that obviously fake copies of the original Pokemon games can go for £100 each… all bought off AliExpress for a few dollars each. I know 10 years from now Ebay will still have not addressed it and the copyright holder (Nintendo or the game publishers…) obviously aren’t that interested either! If just one guy like me can spot all these fakes then why hasn’t a multinational corporation got the same ability?? Really undermines trust in the market. (Often the fake games don’t even work properly)

  • Toby
    7 months ago

    Mike, Ebays attitude is so long as they get their fees from items, they don’t care. If they did, it would be far easier to report sellers and items, instead they have reduced options to the point of it being almost impossible.

  • Chris Lewis
    7 months ago

    Disappointingly soft PR article on a creepy development.

    If this works like VERO, the ‘experts’ (ha!) will be dumb bots monitored by commission based pen-pushers working solely in the interests of ‘stakeholders’. (If that word makes you think of vampires, it’s appropriate).

    The result is an unchallengeable omnipotent anonymous judge without jury, without appeal, without any checks & balances, oversight or interest in justice.

    This piece could be retitled “eBay remove sellers’ rights to due process and appeal for any goods are claimed to be ‘unsafe'”

    People who have experienced VERO will know how inaccurate and unjust these 3rd party kangaroo courts can be. I’ve heard some tragic accounts of painstakingly built businesses ruined by false ‘fake goods’ or IP claims. eBay wash their hands of the matter, happy to let the sharks devour the sellers, since it keeps the brand holders’ lawyers off their backs.

    They slyly tell sellers to ‘reach out’ to rights holders implying you can explain and successfully appeal an unjustified infringement claim.

    Their list of contacts is just the anti-piracy agents who get paid by the brands according to how many people they put out of business. Who don’t want to see any evidence that shows that the goods were genuine. They just demand every shred of personal and financial data, their business, their platforms and paperwork for everything they sold and invoices where they bought it. Which can be used to pursue legal action, identify and blacklist them at any platform they choose and to crush any suppliers who might be acting to create a free market in goods instead of the price-control cartel they prop up.

    As a hobby seller, mainly of our unwanted stuff (avg turnover £20pw!), even I’ve felt the heat and received threats of perma-bans.

    Eg selling – along with hundreds of other punters who’d earned them in a promotion – an unwanted Now TV month’s Sky Sports trial pass for a tenner.

    The bot saw the phrase ‘Sky Sports’ in my listing and labelled me as selling illegal Sky decryption box hardware, liable for criminal prosecution!

    So forgive my cynicism, but how can a bot (or human agent) reliably detect an ‘unsafe’ article at a likely distance of x000 miles just from a few words of broken English?

    The only way this can be implemented is by extra new unaccountable bureaucracies making crude blind sweeping judgements based on near zero evidence. Or on the absence of (a claim of) some certification or membership of an unwieldy expensive trade body which exists mainly to serve its own monopolistic commercial interests.

    Selling your designer handbag?
    Lost the tags? Think of the hideous injuries that product could cause someone!

    Don’t you worry about this straitjacket and this padded cell we’re putting you in.

    It’s all for your own ‘safety’…

  • 7 months ago

    when are they going to stop foreign sellers saying they are uk sellers. a buyer should be able to trust search choices ie uk only sellers. but thousands are china not uk. there should be an option on page for buyer to flag this up to ebay to make it easy to stop false addresses. and now they are saying uk seller then adding vat on advertised price, this has to stop it is not fair to buyer or uk sellers, this complaint has gone on for years and ebay do nothing about it.

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