California lawmakers have advanced a fast-track bill that would require online sellers to verify their identities

California Democratic lawmakers are working to fast-track a bill to crack down on sellers of stolen goods

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A California bill that would require marketplaces such as eBay and Nextdoor to collect bank account and tax ID information from large sellers that advertise online but take payments offline is being readied by Democratic lawmakers for a vote in committees is Tuesday.

The idea is that thieves will be less likely to resell stolen goods if authorities can track them down.

The measure is part of a 14-bill legislative package aimed at combating retail theft in the state. The California Retailers Association said the problem has reached crisis levels, though it’s difficult to quantify because many stores don’t share their data.

Supporters, including district attorneys and some big box retailers, say the data collection proposal would shut down organized thief rings trying to resell stolen goods and close a loophole in existing laws that don’t require platforms to track offline transactions.

The rules arising from the act would apply to sellers who make a profit of at least $5,000 and make at least 200 transactions a year.

Opponents say the measure’s new requirement is so broad and vague that some platforms would have to start collecting sensitive information from all users, harming California e-commerce companies.

“It will essentially force companies to leave California,” said David Edmonson of TechNet, a technology advocacy group. “I imagine most sellers will have to think long and hard about whether they want to share this information on an online marketplace to be able to sell, you know, household products.”

Nathan Garnett, general counsel of OfferUp, a mobile marketplace that connects local buyers and sellers so they can complete transactions in person, said the proposal would significantly benefit large retailers and make it more difficult to operate classified ad websites in the state.

Garnett said that in the case of OfferUp, 11 million users in California would have to provide their personal information before they could list something like a used coffee table or an old truck on the platform.

Opponents say the measure also conflicts with a federal law that went into effect last July that requires online marketplaces like Amazon to vet mass sellers on their platforms as part of an effort to reduce store theft. stationary. stationary stores and online resale.

Federal law was negotiated to protect secret websites and there was no loophole, said Carl Szabo, general counsel of the Internet trade group NetChoice. A group representing companies including Meta and Etsy, Facebook’s parent company, filed a lawsuit against Georgia last week seeking a halt to implementation of a state law establishing similar requirements.

Requiring platforms to monitor all transactions, including those taking place offline, is an impossible task, Szabo said.

California Democratic senator Nancy Skinner, the author of the measure, said law enforcement agencies need this tool to combat professional seller programs. She added that online marketplaces already collect information from users through privacy policies that they must agree to in order to use the platforms at all.

“The only people they would need to get this information from are the mass sellers, not every person who uses their website,” she said.

The proposal is part of a legislative package that would stiffen penalties for organized crime rings, expand drug court programs and close a loophole to, among other things, make it easier to prosecute car thefts.

Lawmakers are racing to deliver bills to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom within weeks. Once signed, the bills would go into effect immediately – a new tough-on-crime strategy in an election year aimed at allaying growing concerns among voters while maintaining progressive policies aimed at keeping people out of prison.

On Tuesday, lawmakers also plan to add a clause to retail theft bills that would invalidate the provisions if voters pass a tough-on-crime initiative on the ballot.