Monday February 15, 2021
Product Safety Is Among EU Focus Areas for Online Platforms
The EU's Product Safety Pledge has shown promising results in protecting consumers, but it does have an underlying weakness of relying on the good faith of voluntary participants, according to a February report for the European Parliament. The document (bit.ly/2NapD3o) looks at liability issues for online platforms across a wide range of issues, including privacy, hate speech, voting manipulation, and terrorism.
The product safety section concludes that the so-far successful implementation of the pledge:
"[S]hows that online marketplaces can step up their efforts in increasing product safety without the latter putting a too big strain on their businesses…[and] can thus be looked at as a prolific trial period/version providing a blueprint for a future piece of regulation imposing specific duties of care on [platforms]."
On liability for selling unsafe product, the report suggested the EU Product Liability Directive might have limited application related to platforms' roles as intermediaries for sellers, especially where primary producers or importers cannot be identified. However, there is a lack of applicable caselaw in the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Pointing to the abilities of platforms – especially large ones – to police the activities or sellers, the authors suggested that EU lawmakers consider adding explicit duties of care for platforms to give consumers clearer redress rights.
The EU is looking at a Digital Service Package (PSL, 1/11/21) that is likely to update platforms' duties. This year it also is seeking a cooperative plan with China for ensuring the safety of products sold online (PSL, 11/23/20).
The Product Safety Pledge began in 2018 (PSL, 7/2/18). The four initial participants – Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, and Rakuten France – promised to implement numerous steps toward ensuring safe products. It has two performance measures of removing problematic listings within two working days of either government notice or via RAPEX monitoring.
Joining the promise have been Allegro, Bol, Cdiscount, eMag, and Wish. More details, including three periodic progress reports, are at bit.ly/3tE2cAi.