What Are eBay and Bezos Guilty Of?

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“Certain manufacturers of video television set-top boxes are either failing to comply with Federal Communications Commission equipment authorization requirements or falsely using FCC branding on their devices.”


That’s a message Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly personally communicated on Friday (5/25) to the CEOs of two of the world’s largest online vendors.

In a letter addressed to eBay President/CEO Devin Wenig and Amazon Chairman/CEO Jeff Bezos, O’Rielly took aim at the online vendors for selling devices that, in his eyes, aren’t fully compliant with FCC regulations.

“Although sufficiently disturbing on its own, these devices are particularly problematic as they are perpetrating intellectual property theft and consumer fraud,” he wrote. “While the Commission has obligations on our end to prevent unauthorized set-top boxes from being available no matter their use, I seek your partnership in helping to remove these illegal products from the stream of commerce.”

The FCC logo is affixed to electronic products that have been authorized using its Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity as a prerequisite to being lawfully marketed in the U.S. “The logo is intended to demonstrate compliance with the Commission’s equipment authorization requirements, including electromagnetic interference limits,” O’Rielly says. “Equipment authorization is mandatory for part 15 devices, including set-top boxes, and must either be affixed in a conspicuous location or utilize electronic labels.”

O’Rielly revealed that “some rogue set-top box manufacturers and distributors are exploiting the FCC’s trusted logo by fraudulently placing it on devices that have not been approved via the Commission’s equipment authorization process.”

Specifically, nine set top box distributors were referred to the FCC in October for enabling the unlawful streaming of copyrighted material, seven of which displayed the FCC logo, although there was no record of such compliance.

“Many of these sellers are attempting to distribute their non-compliant products through online marketplaces such as yours,” O’Rielly told the chief executives.

On that end, he recognized that “proactive steps” have been taken by both Amazon and eBay to remove pirate devices from the product lineup provided by third-party vendor partners.

Unfortunately, despite their “good work in this area,” devices continue to make it to consumers through eBay and Amazon — some of which contain harmful malware.

“For these reasons, I am seeking your further cooperation in assisting the FCC in taking steps to eliminate non-FCC compliant devices or devices that fraudulently bear the FCC logo,” he said. “Moreover, if your company is made aware by the Commission, with supporting evidence, that a particular device is using a fraudulent FCC label or has not been appropriately certified and labeled with a valid FCC logo, I respectfully request that you commit to swiftly removing these products from your sites. If this situation arises, I also ask that you provide information involving the manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers to the Commission.”