Ohio is fighting retail theft by regulating sales on online marketplaces like Facebook
States are doing something Congress has yet to do – making it harder for criminals to sell stolen items online.
On Wednesday, Ohio became the third state — after Arkansas and Colorado — to regulate sales on sites including Amazon, Ebay and Facebook Marketplace, according to the Retail Industry Leaders Association.
The new laws require “high volume” sellers, meaning people who sell at least $5,000 worth of items in two years, to share their banking and identification information with the sites in order to prevent professional thieves from making a quick buck.
Ohio’s new law comes nearly four months after NBC News embedded local police in Perrysburg Township, south of Toledo, as undercover detectives busted organized theft rings that peddle brand new power tools stolen from 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 freeways for quick getaways. Crime has gotten so bad that the region’s State House representative, Haraz Ghanbari, co-sponsored legislation in April 2021 to limit the sale of stolen goods online.
In response, representatives from major tech advocacy groups flew to Ohio to testify against the bill, arguing that it would hinder law-abiding users who like to sell things on the Internet. Amazon even hired a lobbying firm, according to NBC News.
Both houses of the Ohio legislature passed Ghanbari’s bill unanimously in March, and the governor signed it into law on Wednesday. It comes into effect on July 6.
“I’m not interested in waiting for the feds to pass legislation,” Ghanbari, a Republican, told NBC News after the bill was signed into law. “This is an all-hands-on initiative to close these loopholes that criminals exploit on a daily basis.”
An Amazon spokesperson would not comment on the new Ohio 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 those passed by Arkansas, Colorado and Ohio.
Meanwhile, Congress has yet to finalize its version, the INFORM Consumers Act, which contains both House and Senate bills. Tech giants such as Amazon and Ebay are supporting the House version, passed in February, which would require sellers who earn more than $20,000 from online sales to disclose their banking information.
An Amazon spokesperson would not comment on the new Ohio 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, the parent company of Facebook Marketplace, declined to comment. TechNet, a pro-internet advocacy group that testified against the Ohio bill, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.