California Withdraws Proposed Bill to Protect Consumer Safety

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. liable / ˈlaɪ ə bəl / (adj) – legally responsible for someone or something

    The shipping company is liable for the products lost during transit.

  2. unanimous / yuˈnænəməs / (adj) – agreed by all members of a group

    The club made a unanimous decision to elect a new president.

  3. faulty / ˈfɔl ti / (adj) – having damage or not working as expected

    I returned the faulty phone charger and got a refund.

  4. blow up / bloʊ ʌp / (phrasal) – to explode

    An overheated car engine can blow up.

  5. in the guise of (someone/something) / ɪn ðə gaɪz ʌv / (idiom) – looking like or pretending to be someone or something else

    The criminals were able to escape prison in the guise of security guards.


Read the text below.

A bill to hold online marketplaces and platforms liable for damaged products will not move forward.

California bill AB 3262 was proposed to hold online marketplaces liable for damages or injuries that may be caused by defective products sold by third-party sellers. The proposal of the bill came following a California appeals court’s unanimous decision to make Amazon legally accountable for damaged products sold on its platform.

In August, an Amazon customer filed a lawsuit against the company because of a faulty replacement laptop battery she bought from a Hong Kong-based business that sells its products on Amazon. The customer complained that the battery blew up and caused her physical burns.

In a statement, Amazon said that the company would be ready to support the bill if it were amended to include all online stores. However, a few organizations and e-commerce companies, like eBay and Etsy, opposed the bill, saying that it would be unfavorable to small businesses that sell products via online platforms.

Josh Silverman, Etsy’s chief executive officer, said that there are already existing laws that protect consumers. In light of Amazon’s support of the bill, Silverman believes that the retail giant is trying to eliminate its competitors in the guise of protecting consumers.

Following the opposition, Mark Stone, the lawmaker who proposed AB 3262, said in a statement that the bill will no longer move forward. He explained that the California State Assembly engaged in discussions with people in the industry and decided to work on another online policy.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree with the court’s decision to hold Amazon liable for defective products sold by third-party sellers? Why or why not?
• Do you agree with Etsy’s CEO that Amazon supported the bill to eliminate its competitors? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• What else can online platforms do to make sure that buyers do not get damaged products (e.g. conduct thorough screening of products before shipping them)? Discuss.
• What can buyers do to prevent purchasing faulty products online (e.g. research the store, read product reviews)? Discuss.