States are doing something that Congress has yet to accomplish — make it harder for criminals to sell stolen items online.
On Wednesday, Ohio became the third state — after Arkansas and Colorado — to regulate sales on such sites such as Amazon, Ebay and Facebook Marketplace, according to the Retail Industry Leaders Association.
The new laws require “high-volume” sellers, people who sell at least $5,000 worth of items within two years, to share their banking and identification information with sites in order to keep professional thieves from making a fast dollar.
Ohio’s new law comes nearly four months after NBC News embedded with local police in Perrysburg Township, south of Toledo, as undercover detectives busted organized theft rings who hawk stolen new-in-box power tools on Facebook Marketplace.
Shoplifting gangs have targeted Perrysburg Township for years due to its concentration of big box stores, such as Home Depot, Lowe’s and Target, and its proximity to highways for quick getaways. Crime got so bad that the area’s representative in the state House, Haraz Ghanbari, cosponsored legislation in April 2021 to curtail the sale of stolen merchandise online.
In response, representatives of big tech advocacy groups flew to Ohio to testify against the bill, arguing it would impede law-abiding users who like to sell things on the internet. Amazon even hired a lobbying firm, NBC News found.
Both chambers of Ohio’s legislature passed Ghanbari’s bill unanimously in March, and the governor signed it on Wednesday. It becomes effective July 6.
“I am not interested in waiting for the federal government to pass legislation,” said Ghanbari, a Republican, told NBC News after the bill was signed. “This is an all hands on deck initiative in order to shut down these loopholes that criminals are exploiting on a daily basis.”
A spokesperson for Amazon, wouldn’t comment on Ohio’s new law and said the company still supports the House version of the INFORM ACT. “It would prevent an unworkable patchwork of state-level regulations,” the spokesperson said.
Illinois, Michigan, New York and several other states are now considering laws similar to what Arkansas, Colorado and Ohio have passed.
Meanwhile, Congress has not yet finalized its version, the INFORM Consumers Act, which has both House and Senate drafts. Tech giants such as Amazon and Ebay support the House version, passed in February, which would require sellers who earn more than $20,000 in online sales to disclose their banking information.
A spokesperson for Amazon, wouldn’t comment on Ohio’s new law and said the company supports the House version of the INFORM Consumers Act. “It would prevent an unworkable patchwork of state-level regulations,” the spokesperson said.
Meta, Facebook Marketplace’s parent company, declined to comment. TechNet, a pro-Internet advocacy group that testified against the Ohio bill, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.