AG Derek Schmidt: Online platforms must crack down on illegal alcohol sales

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Office of Kansas Attorney General

TOPEKA – (October 22, 2019) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has joined a bipartisan coalition of 46 state and territory attorneys general in calling on Facebook, Craigslist and eBay to take proactive measures against illegal alcohol sales on their platforms.  

In letters sent this week, the attorneys general note the power to regulate the sale of alcohol is vested in the states under the 21st Amendment, and outline concerns that unlicensed, unregulated and untaxed alcohol sales are taking place on the digital platforms operated by the companies. Absent regulation of the sales, the products being sold may be counterfeit or tainted, and consumers may not be aware of the illegality of the sales or the health risks posed by the black-market products.

“We believe that everyone has an ethical and moral responsibility to protect consumers, especially those who are most vulnerable to fraud,” the attorneys general wrote in the letters. “Self-regulation and self-policing to prevent illegal and unfair trade practices and ensure consumer safety are minimum responsibilities for your respective companies. You have the technical prowess and power to accomplish basic protections against illegal sales.”

The letters ask Facebook, Craigslist, and eBay to take the following specific actions:

  • Review the current content posted to the companies’ websites and remove illegal postings for the sales and/or transfer of alcohol products.
  • Develop and deploy programming to block and prevent users from violating state law by posting content for the sale and distribution of alcohol products.

The attorneys general also invited the companies to join with them to form a working group with stakeholders from government and industry to further explore how to establish practical and effective protocols for preventing illegal alcohol sales.

Copies of the letters are available at https://bit.ly/2Jemc6V.