California Gov Signs INFORM Consumers Act

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed SB 301—California’s version of the federal INFORM Consumers Act—to strengthen transparency rules for high volume third-party sellers and provide greater tools for law enforcement to identify stolen items.

“We are tightening the spigot, reducing the sale of online illegal merchandise,” Newsom said. “By empowering consumers with the ability to identify stolen items for sale online and providing greater transparency for high volume sellers, we are tackling this problem at the source. Thanks to the work of my partners in the legislature, in California, we are addressing the crime we see affecting the nation through a multi-pronged approach focused on deterrence, enforcement, and prevention.”

Both SB 301 by State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and AB 1700 by Assemblymember Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego) work to address the online sale of stolen merchandise. SB 301 calls for online marketplaces to require high volume third-party sellers to provide greater information to protect consumers. These requirements include contact and bank account information, as well as a seller’s physical address. AB 1700 directs the Attorney General’s Office to dedicate a section of its website for individuals to report items found on online marketplaces identified as possible stolen goods. The Attorney General will share this information with local law enforcement agencies. The bill will also require online marketplaces to display a link to the Attorney General’s webpage.

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The governor also signed AB 2294 by Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer Sr. (D-Los Angeles), which gives law enforcement the ability to keep in custody individuals suspected of organized retail theft. Under the current process, an individual arrested for a misdemeanor is typically released with a written notice or citation. This bill will allow for law enforcement to keep in custody a person arrested for a misdemeanor if they have been convicted of theft from a store in the last six months, or if there is probable cause that the individual is guilty of participating in organized retail theft.

Today’s bill signing comes on the heels of the governor’s announcement of California’s Real Public Safety Plan, which includes hundreds of millions in funding to provide grants for local district attorneys to address retail theft, establish a statewide organized theft team in the Attorney General’s Office, make permanent and expand the Organized Retail Theft Task Force led by CHP, and create the largest gun buyback program in the country. The plan also includes grants for local law enforcement, prosecutors, and small businesses victimized by retail theft.

SB 301 is strongly supported by the California Retailers Association, and passed by the state legislature with zero opposition.

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