France calls for Wish app and site to be blocked

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This picture taken on 6 March, 2019 in Paris, shows the logo of the online e-commerce website Wish (AFP via Getty Images)
This picture taken on 6 March, 2019 in Paris, shows the logo of the online e-commerce website Wish (AFP via Getty Images)

Several leading French politicians have called for search engines and app stores to hide the app and website of Wish following an investigation into the online marketplace.

Ministers Bruno Le Maire and Alain Griset, as well as France’s Secretary of State for the Digital Sector Cédric O, said in a joint statement that Wish had violated consumer rights by listing and selling products that were not compliant with European regulations.

More than 100 products sold on Wish were tracked as part of an investigation by the French administration in charge of consumer rights and fraud, with the findings revealing that more than half of the products were non-compliant, and a significant proportion were labelled as dangerous.

For toys, 95 per cent were found to be non-compliant, of which 45 per cent were dangerous, while for electrical appliances 95 per cent were found to be non-compliant, of which 90 per cent were dangerous.

Wish removed the goods when notified that they were dangerous, however the investigation found that “in most cases, those products remain available under a different name, and sometimes even from the same seller.”

The administration also claimed that Wish does not keep any record related to transactions of non-compliant and dangerous products.

Most products listed on Wish come from China-based merchants, with the platform not holding any inventory itself.

According to the Direction Générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes (DGCCRF), this allowed Wish to remain relatively unaccountable, however recent changes in European regulation has provided powers to dereference problematic sites and apps from search engines and mobile app stores – essentially shadowbanning them.

It marks the first time that politicians have sought to implement these new online consumer protection powers provided by European law.

“These decisions are unique to Europe and aim to protect consumers and end Wish’s breaches of safety obligations of the products it sells,” a press release from the DGCCRF stated.

A spokesperson for Wish told The Independent: “At Wish we are dedicated to providing a positive user experience and a large part of that involves making quality products available to our users.

“While, as a marketplace platform, we are under no legal obligation to carry out checks on the 150 million products offered for sale on the platform, we invest in a wide range of programs designed to attract and reward sellers that offer quality items, and limit the exposure of those offering lower quality items.”

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