One of the most well-known online auction and shopping sites, eBay has facilitated consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer transactions since its inception in 1995. Separate from other e-commerce websites, eBay is driven by its sellers and relies on third parties to post their items to the platform and fulfill purchase orders at the conclusion of determined bidding periods. Although it is presented as a convenient avenue to sell and purchase products, the marketplace may also afford certain freedoms that allow illegal items to unnoticeably slip through the cracks. Due to this apparent leniency, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit that was filed in the federal court in Brooklyn, New York on Wednesday, September 27, the DOJ accuses eBay of committing three specific violations against the Clean Air Act. In particular, the company has allegedly condoned the sale of products that violate the Act and has not taken the necessary steps to stop these transactions. The DOJ cites the sale of 343,011 devices that help vehicles produce improved fuel economy and power, thus aiding in the evasion of emission controls. In addition, eBay has also allegedly failed to restrict the auctioning of 23,000 pesticides that are either unregistered, restricted, or misbranded.
The presence of the pesticides on the website directly violates the “stop sale” order issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2020. The third violation involves the distribution of products that contain methylene chloride, a chemical that has an identified correlation to brain and liver cancer, as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The 5,614 methylene chloride based products that have been sold on eBay include items that remove paint and coating. Despite the claims presented against the company, eBay contends that one of its core goals is to continue to provide a secure marketplace for both consumers and businesses to engage in legal transactions of goods.