Thanks to a dialogue facilitated by the European Commission, four major online companies have committed to responding to notifications on dangerous products from Member State authorities within 2 working days and take action on notices from customers within 5 working days.
Vĕra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said: "More and more people in the EU are shopping online. E-commerce has opened up new possibilities for consumers, offering them more choice at lower prices. Consumers should be just as safe when they buy online, as when they buy in a shop. I welcome the Product Safety Pledge which will further improve consumer safety. I call also on other online marketplaces to join this initiative, so that the internet becomes a safer place for EU consumers."
Online sales represented 20% of the total sales in 2016 in the EU (Eurostat). More and more of the dangerous products notified in the Rapid Alert System are sold online. This shows the need for all online marketplaces to continue and further step up their efforts when it comes to removing dangerous products. The EU e-Commerce Directive introduces notice and take-down procedures for problematic content online, but it does not regulate them in detail. Today, these four major online marketplaces have agreed to a series of commitments to ensure EU consumers are well protected.
Alibaba Group (for AliExpress), Amazon, eBay and Rakuten-France commit to taking the following measures:
- React within two working days to authorities' notices made to the companies' contact points to remove listings offering unsafe products. Companies should follow-up and inform the authorities on the action taken.
- Provide a clear way for customers to notify dangerous product listings. Such notices are treated expeditiously and appropriate response is given within five working days.
- Consult information on recalled/dangerous products available on the EU Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products and also from other sources, such as from enforcement authorities and take appropriate action with respect to the products concerned, when they can be identified.
- Provide specific single contact points for EU Member State authorities for the notifications on dangerous products and for the facilitation of communication on product safety issues.
- Take measures aimed at preventing the reappearance of dangerous product listings already removed.
- Provide information/training to sellers on compliance with EU product safety legislation, require sellers to comply with the law, and provide sellers with the link to the list of EU product safety legislation.
The online marketplaces and the European Commission will assess the progress made on the commitments every six months, publishing a report.
The European Commission encourages other online marketplaces to follow the good example of the four companies taking the lead today and sign up and contribute to improving product safety online for consumers in the EU.
The e-Commerce Directive (article 14) states that dangerous product listings must be taken down speedily and efficiently, but does not specify the timing.
In its Communication of September 2017 on tackling illegal content online, the European Commission set out to monitor progress in tackling illegal content online and assess whether additional measures are needed. As a follow-up, in March 2018, the Commission adopted a Recommendation with a set of operational measures to be taken by companies and Member States to further step up this work before it determines whether it will be necessary to propose legislation. These recommendations apply to all forms of illegal content ranging from terrorist content, incitement to hatred and violence, child sexual abuse material, unsafe products and copyright infringement.
The EU Rapid Alert System enables quick exchange of information between 31 European countries and the European Commission about dangerous non-food products posing a risk to health and safety of consumers. On 12 March 2018, the European Commission released its report on the Rapid Alert System for dangerous products in 2017 (see press release).