Cross Party Letter Increases Pressure on Government to Regulate Online Giants

01 July 2022

More than 60 political figures from both the House of Commons and Lords call on Government to act to protect consumers

Consumers continue to be placed at risk from dangerous goods sold on online marketplaces due to the Government’s failure to act, a cross party letter states.

Signed by more than 60 MPs and Peers across both Houses, the letter drastically increases pressure on the Government to introduce laws to regulate online marketplaces, such as Amazon, eBay and Wish.

The letter, submitted to the Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on  Online & Home Electrical Safety and supported by consumer safety charity, Electrical Safety First, comes as the Government has failed to publish a consultation on the issue, which it promised to do by Spring.

Signed by members of the Conservative Party, the Labour Party, the SNP and Liberal Democrats, signatories include: Leader of the Lib Dems, Sir Ed Davey; Conservative MP Sir Ian Duncan Smith, Chair of the BEIS Select Committee Darren Jones; and Sir Stephen Timms, Chair of the Work & Pensions Select Committee.

Under current laws, online marketplaces, such as Amazon Marketplace and eBay, are not responsible for the safety of products sold via their platform, despite profiting from their sale.

Extensive investigations by the charity have repeatedly found highly dangerous electrical products for sale across almost all major online marketplaces. These have included fire-risk hair dryers, counterfeit mobile chargers, and ‘energy saving’ plugs that could cause severe electric shocks or death.

As recently as this month, Meta, the parent company of Facebook Marketplace, was condemned by Electrical Safety First for its failure to act over dangerous and non-compliant electrical products sold via its platform. The charity has since had contact with the social media giant and facilitated the removal of the products.

Lesley Rudd, Chief Executive of Electrical Safety First, commented: “Consumers continue to be left to play Russian Roulette with their safety when shopping for electrical goods via online marketplaces.

“The evidence that online marketplaces continue to host dangerous goods on their platforms is undeniable. It cannot be one rule for our trusted high street retailers and another for online giants. The Government must face up to the realisation that the way we shop has changed and that the law must catch up to ensure shoppers remain safe online.”

Yvonne Fovargue MP, Chair of the APPG on Online & Home Electrical Safety, commented: “Momentum has built across all parties to finally close this gap in the law. Consumers have been left without adequate protection from dangerous products for too long and it is imperative the Government proves it is on the side of the consumer by changing the law and regulating online marketplaces once and for all.”