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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Amazon must decide whether to go it alone in the fight against a bill meant to deter online sales of counterfeit and stolen goods, after its e-commerce peers Etsy and eBay threw their support behind updated House legislation set for a Thursday hearing.

Between the lines: The fierce and unanimous opposition from online marketplaces has splintered, potentially easing the path forward for the latest legislation.

Driving the news: A House Energy & Commerce subcommittee will consider the online retail bill, known as the INFORM Act, Thursday.

  • The bipartisan INFORM Act, from subcommittee chairwoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and ranking member Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), would require online marketplaces to collect and verify identification information of vendors who have made at least 200 sales in a year that together are worth $5,000 or more.
  • The bill also requires platforms provide customers with a way to contact sellers who have more than $20,000 in annual gross revenue after buying from them.
  • Requiring such information and disclosure, lawmakers say, will discourage criminals from using the platforms to sell counterfeit and stolen goods — a problem that ballooned as e-commerce swelled during the pandemic.

Flashback: Earlier this year, senators tried to hitch their version of the INFORM Act to the China-focused competition bill, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, but that effort failed amid intense lobbying by Amazon and others.

  • “The privacy and safety concerns were very important for our members, that’s why we fought for a little more protection around those issues, and we got them," said Chris Lamond, who runs the Coalition to Protect America’s Small Sellers, which counts eBay, Etsy and Poshmark among its members. "That’s a major change from the Senate version.”

The intrigue: Lawmakers who are eyeing including the measure in the House version of the competition bill negotiated with the smaller platforms to gain their support.

  • Etsy said the House version does a better job of protecting the privacy of its sellers, many of whom sell out of their homes, in how it requires the disclosure of their information.
  • "It strikes that right balance between best practices in vetting and thoughtful disclosure without being privacy invasive," Etsy head of U.S. government relations Jeffrey Zubricki told Axios.
  • eBay said changes to the verification requirements also helped garner the company's support, as did increasing the threshold for when platforms must provide customers a means of contacting sellers.
  • The House bill also would preempt similar legislation that has popped up in statehouses across the country.

The big picture: The legislation was also praised by Consumer Reports, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Buy Safe America Coalition, which represents Home Depot, Walgreens and other major retailers.

Yes, but: Amazon, which staunchly opposed the Senate version, declined comment on the House version.

  • The Makers and Merchants Coalition — funded by the Internet Association, a trade association that represents Amazon — said it is reviewing the latest bill.
  • "Legislation like this was never designed to prevent fraud and abuse, it was written to benefit large brick-and-mortar retailers at the expense of small online sellers," Katie Wright, spokesperson for the Makers and Merchants Coalition, said in a statement. "Big Retail and Buy Safe continue to push legislation at the state and federal level with varying provisions that have the potential to harm honest sellers."
  • "While some marketplaces may have warmed to the House bill, small sellers come in different shapes and sizes, and we are reviewing the latest iteration with an eye toward holding harmless all honest sellers." 

Go deeper

White House blasts Texas bill targeting trans youth in sports as "hateful"

LGBTQ rights supporters gather at the Texas State Capitol to protest state Republican-led efforts to pass legislation that would restrict the participation of transgender student athletes. Photo: Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images

A White House spokesperson on Tuesday condemned a Texas bill that would force public school students to play on sports teams based on their assigned sex at birth, telling the Dallas Morning News the legislation is "hateful."

Why it matters: If passed, Texas would become the 10th state in the country to enact legislation banning transgender kids from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity, per NBC News.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (L) and Sen. Joe Manchin (R) at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13, 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.