America's online shoppers are at constant risk of buying counterfeit products – That's about to change

As an American consumer deserve to have confidence in your purchases

“America First” isn’t just a campaign slogan, it’s a promise to make life better for Americans and ensure that we are protected in our daily lives. President Trump continues to deliver on that promise.

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Keeping his promise from his June 2016 jobs plan speech outside of Pittsburgh, the president signed an executive order last week following the recent Phase One trade deal with China that provides a framework for cracking down on theft of American intellectual property. Trump said he is committed to putting an end to the theft of “hundreds of billions of dollars of our intellectual property” that China steals from America every year.

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One of the purest forms of intellectual property theft is counterfeiting, especially trafficking facilitated by e-commerce giants essential to our daily lives, like Amazon, Alibaba, E-Bay, Shopify, JD.com and Walmart.

Americans are increasingly choosing e-commerce over brick-and-mortar retail. This year, Black Friday sales for brick-and-mortar stores dropped 6.2 percent and the drop “mirrored a surge in... online shopping, which hit $7.4 billion,” the largest ever total for online sales, according to Adobe Analytics.

When we shop online, we have an expectation of privacy, safety, and confidence in the e-commerce platforms and online sellers we patronize. Instead, we are getting ripped off.

Goods sold on the internet are often counterfeit, and this isn’t remotely limited to knock-off Gucci bags. According to the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, Americans shopping online are at an unacceptably high risk of being defrauded or even being harmed by everything we buy, including contaminated infant formula, inferior child car seats, exploding batteries and dangerous electronics, and even deadly substances like fentanyl in fake prescription opioids.

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E-commerce platforms need more incentives to screen the products they sell from third-party vendors against counterfeiting. Yet, under lax interpretations of existing rules and laws, they face virtually no liability for their counterfeit trafficking.

When we shop online, we have an expectation of privacy, safety, and confidence in the e-commerce platforms and online sellers we patronize. Instead, we are getting ripped off.

The Trump administration is attacking this problem head-on. Last summer, in anticipation of a possible deal with the Chinese addressing intellectual property theft, the White House worked with Customs and Border Protection to initiate Operation Megaflex, which screened thousands of additional packages arriving by air at ports of entry in the U.S. from China and monitored counterfeit goods trafficking.

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In the “blitzes” conducted thus far, customs agents found “discrepancies” in 10 percent or more of the packages arriving from China and Hong Kong by air, with roughly one-third of the discrepancies counterfeits. This translates to over 100,000 packages per day that could defraud, harm, or even kill American consumers. The White House says the acceptable rate of customs discrepancies should be under 1 percent.

When you shop on your favorite, trusted e-commerce site in what you think is the safety and privacy of your own home, you as an American consumer deserve to have confidence in your purchases. You also deserve to have recourse if you are defrauded or harmed. That’s exactly the point of President Trump’s initiative.

Under the Phase One China deal and its enforcement, coupled with the Executive Order signed last week, the White House anticipates seeing a quick and dramatic reduction in the rates of counterfeit trafficking over the next six months.

The Trump administration, including the Department of Justice, will hold both the counterfeit traffickers like China and the counterfeit enablers like the e-commerce platforms, accountable through greater transparency and increased prosecutions.

As President Trump promised, “We are making America safer again.”

Promises made, promises kept.

Jenna Ellis is a constitutional law attorney and the Senior Legal Adviser to the Trump 2020 campaign. She is an attorney to President Trump and author of “The Legal Basis for a Moral Constitution.”

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