CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has joined a bipartisan coalition calling on Facebook, Craigslist and eBay to take proactive measures against unlawful alcohol sales on their platforms that violate state laws, according to a release from the Attorney General’s Office.
The release states the coalition is made up of 46 other state and territory attorneys general.
“If you’re going to sell alcohol online, it should be with the same safeguards and restrictions that come with brick-and-mortar sales,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “That means no backdoor sales to minors, and the products people buy online can’t be counterfeit. These major Internet companies have it within their power to protect consumers, and they need to do so.”
The attorneys general sent each company a letter Tuesday, according to the release. The letter notes that the 21st Amendment vests the right to regulate the sale of alcohol to each state. The letter also explained the attorneys general’s concern that unlicensed, unregulated and untaxed alcohol sales are taking place on digital platforms, according to the release.
Additionally, the release stated that the attorneys general are arguing that some of the products sold online may be counterfeit or tainted, sometimes with harmful effects. The attorneys general also explain that consumers may not know that this method of selling alcohol is illegitimate, or that the black-market products could produce health risks.
“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. “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 letter asks Facebook, Craigslist and eBay to review existing website content and remove illegal postings for the sale and/or transfer of alcohol products. Additionally, the letter asks the digital platforms to develop and deploy programming to block and prevent platform users from violating state law by posting content for the sale and distribution of alcohol products on their websites.
The release states that the attorneys general also invited the companies to collaborate and form a working group of various stakeholders to explore how to establish practical and effective protocols for preventing illegal alcohol sales.
The letter and full list of participating states can be found here.