May 20, 2019

Russian ombudsman wants nationwide block on AliExpress over fears for kids health

The Russian ombudsman for childrens rights has proposed developing a procedure for blocking AliExpress and similar e-trading platforms, as they can bypass regulations to sell goods that are dangerous for children.

Ombudsman Anna Kuznetsova sent a letter containing this proposal to Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika in late September, Kommersant daily reported on Thursday.

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She asked the prosecutor general to examine the possibility of taking a court case with a view to blocking websites that sell childrens goods in a manner contrary to Russian customs regulations.

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Kuznetsovas spokesperson said the ombudsman was referring to so-called “digital marketplaces” – web companies that allow third-party sellers to use them to reach customers and deliver goods. The best-known such marketplace in Russia is Chinas AliExpress, but Amazon in the United States uses a similar model. Other types of websites that could fall under ban include aggregators of online stores like Google Shopping – in Russia the largest one is called Yandex Market.

However, the ombudsman also emphasized that website blocking should not extend to all platforms that sell dangerous goods, but only to particular sellers that allow such things.

The prosecutor general is expected to reply to the proposal before the end of October.

The head of the Russian Association of Internet Trading Companies, Artyom Sokolov, said that the controversy over digital marketplaces existed because Russian law currently protects the customers of Russian web shops, but not those of foreign internet trading companies.

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