The European Commission has launched an investigation into the Chinese online sales site AliExpress, following allegations of the distribution of illegal products, particularly fake medicines.
The probe comes as part of the new European legislation on digital services (DSA), which aims to protect consumers from illegal or dangerous products sold via e-commerce platforms.
The European Commission has sent a formal request for information to AliExpress, a subsidiary of the Chinese giant Alibaba, asking for details on the measures taken to protect consumers in accordance with the DSA. This marks the first investigation targeting e-commerce under the new regulation.
Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, highlighted the increasing concern over the sale of fake and potentially life-threatening medicines and pharmaceuticals online.
The request for information is the initial step in a process that could result in heavy financial penalties if proven violations of the regulations are found.
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The DSA not only addresses issues such as hate speech and disinformation but also aims to ensure the removal of illegal or dangerous products sold within the EU through e-commerce platforms. The European Commission’s investigation into AliExpress is a significant move towards safeguarding consumers and cracking down on the sale of counterfeit medicines.
AliExpress has until November 27, 2023, to provide the requested information to the Commission. Depending on the assessment of AliExpress’ responses, further actions may be taken, including the formal opening of proceedings under Article 66 of the DSA.
Under Article 74 (2) of the DSA, fines can be imposed for incorrect, incomplete, or misleading information provided in response to the request.
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If AliExpress fails to respond by the deadline, the Commission may issue a decision requesting the information, with non-compliance potentially resulting in the imposition of periodic penalty payments.
As a Very Large Online Platform, AliExpress is obligated to comply with the full range of provisions introduced by the DSA. This includes assessing and mitigating risks associated with the dissemination of illegal and harmful content, as well as addressing any negative impact on the exercise of fundamental rights.
The investigation into AliExpress underscores the European Commission’s commitment to protecting consumers and ensuring the safety and authenticity of products sold online. It sends a clear message that the sale of fake medicines will not be tolerated, and those found in violation of the regulations will face severe consequences.
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