back to article Amazon, eBay and pals agree to Europe's other GDPR: Generally Dangerous Products Removed from websites

Four of the world's biggest online retailers have agreed to pull goods flagged as dangerous within a week – but only in Europe. Amazon, eBay, AliExpress and Rakuten have signed an agreement with the European Commission to follow its existing Rapid Alert System that notifies large retailers about products deemed unsafe. The …

  1. David Webb

    Dangerous?

    How do they actually define dangerous? is it just goods that have a recall notice or are likely to explode? If you look on some sites for instance, you'll find motorcycle helmets which are not approved for the use in Europe (usually have the American DOT mark), so if a copper pulls you over and you have the DOT mark and not the ECU mark they can actually give you a ticket for not wearing a helmet, so would that be covered as dangerous goods by virtue of it not being legal to use on European roads?

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Dangerous?

      Re: Happy Dragon Clipper For The Nose Hair Cutting

      Upon inserting battery, device became warm to the touch. Following instructions TO THE LETTER inserted the top into my right nostril whereupon flames shot up my nose setting fire to my nose hair and my moustache.

      Three stars.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Dangerous?

        well if the Happy Dragon's marketing blurb simply claimed it was an effective defolliator then they might get way with it?

      2. Guus Leeuw

        Re: Dangerous?

        Can't resist... Sorry!

        At least the nose hair was gone, albeit only from the right nostril

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re:At least the nose hair was gone, albeit only from the right nostril

          Alas, once the conflagration had spread to my moustache the left nostril's hair caught fire too.

          On the one hand, job done.

          On the other, Stench of burned hair has flooded nasal cavity for days and the tip of my nose is burned and peeling due to once-luxuriant moustache suffering venting with flame.

          So two stars off.

          Curiously I see that people using the Happy Dragon Vape Pen For The Inhaling Of Heathful Vapours are reporting that on attempting to use that device, flames shoot down one's throat. My guess would be that Happy Dragon's battery supplier has dodgy QA. Thankfully I don't smoke or vape, at least not once the nose hair was extinguished, and so have not give the tonsils, esophagus and lungs a damn good singeing too.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Dangerous?

      In general, those that do not comply with the relevant regulations.

      Whether by deliberate design or faulty manufacture.

      Over the years I've seen a lot of stuff that's clearly electrically dangerous from the photo on ebay and Amazon.

      Usually under their "marketplace" scheme.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Dangerous?

      Things like the helmets would not be legal for sale on the sites, because they don't carry the EU certification. This has always been a problem, long before Internet sales. The same helmet is available with or without the ECU mark. The one with is legal in Europe, the one without is a grey import and is illegal, because it doesn't contain the right certification. The problem is, the average copper on the street can't tell the difference between a certified Shoei or Arai and a fake, so he has to go by the certification mark (even if it is faked), so a US DOT approved one is illegal...

      Anything electrical without a CE certification, for example. Products for children that have been tested and proven to contain toxic substances or metal spikes (last year in Germany several cuddly toys were removed from sale because they were either toxic, poorly manufactured (heads came off and babies could ingest the foam) or were stiffened with metal wires that could cause injury).

      Clothing or upholstery that isn't fire retardent (and tested) to EU standards would be another area.

      IoT dolls have also been removed, because they break EU privacy laws (know security weaknesses that allow hackers to listen in on the kids or speak directly to them). A kids watch was also removed out of privacy grounds, because parents could listen in on the kids when they were at school, this broke the pirvacy of other children and of the teachers. The parent would need to get the written permission of everybody the kid came in contact with, before they could evesdrop on the kid.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Dangerous?

        I'm baffled by chargers with ONLY USA flat blade pins having a CE mark.

        Even Amazon branded ones.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. dajames Silver badge

          Re: Dangerous?

          I'm baffled by chargers with ONLY USA flat blade pins having a CE mark.

          Such goods require a CE mark if they are manufactured or sold in Europe -- even if they are obviously intended to be used elsewhere.

        3. eionmac

          Re: Dangerous?

          CE markings are 'SELF-CERTIFIED'

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dangerous?

      How do they actually define dangerous?

      As anything Nanny doesn't like. Kettle draws more the 1.4KW? Dangerous - BAN. Halogen lights? Oh, bad for the environment, must be dangerous - BAN.

      We'll soon need a note from our Mummy to buy anything. Politicians, determined to protect us from ourselves as if we were all 5 years old, and we just let them. Look at the lukewarm response to the new French speed limit laws (all single carriageway roads limited to 80km/h, 50MPH) from July 1st. Local officials are only worried about who will pay to change all the road signs. So much for Liberté

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Dangerous?

        Speeding on the roads is not "Liberté". It infringes on everyone else's road use, and their liberties.

        Walking along a B road here in the UK, drivers going well above the speed limit look like they have seen a ghost when they see a pedestrian. I couldn't even imagine cycling along that road.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dangerous?

          Speeding on the roads is not "Liberté". It infringes on everyone else's road use, and their liberties.

          You're missing the point. The problem isn't usually speeding, it's driving without paying attention. A blanket change from 90km/h to 80km/h on every single-carriageway road will not fix the problem. If anything it will make the roads more dangerous because people will have their eyes fixed on their speedometer in case they get a ticket for doing 81 in an 80 zone (and yes, I have had a ticket for doing 91 in a 90 zone in France. On a dual-carriageway in light traffic.). Changing the limit in specific, dangerous areas, is one thing. A blanket change to slow every road down is a nanny-state attempt to protect us from ourselves. Might as well set the limit to 5km/h, we'd all be safer then.

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: Dangerous?

            Obviously, if people habitually go 15mph above the speed limit, lowering the limit will have an effect.

            If people completely ignore the speed limit, it won't. This is where policing comes in.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Dangerous?

              Obviously, if people habitually go 15mph above the speed limit, lowering the limit will have an effect.

              So where do you draw the line? 50kmh nationally? 20? 5? 0 would be perfect for safety, not so great for the economy (or personal freedom) though.

              1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

                Re: Dangerous?

                Many countries use a combination of a percentage of the speed limit, and a maximum overspeed (for example 20mph) before losing the license. Hefty fines long before those limits.

                Assuming you ask about the signposted speed limits, I guess making them suitable to the road conditions, but also taking into account other road users, would make sense. Especially now when drivers expect not to have to think at all, and just keep to the posted speed limit (as a lower limit) regardless of visibility, other road users, and so on.

                So, yes, more nannying because drivers don't do their own assessments any more.

                Also: Drivers should be forced to take a "pedestrian experience course" walking along some heavily trafficked B-roads. That should scare the sh*t out of them, and give them a valuable lesson. Might help with the obesity epidemic as well.

        2. Jimmy2Cows

          Re: Dangerous?

          OP didn't say anything about speeding, merely commented on the lukewarm response to the proposed reduction in speed limit.

          Like any country, there will be roads where such reduction is appropriate, others where it is not. I would imagine it's the inappropriate blanket approach pushing the OP's Liberté buttons. Ticks the Egalité box though...

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: Dangerous?

            Ticks the Egalité box though...

            Hmm. I've always thought it strange that a country which supposedly prizes Egalité is happy to build a parallel toll road network so that people with money can speed past those who haven't, yet the free-market ones like the US & UK build motorways that are generally free to use by everyone.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Dangerous?

              " free-market ones like the US & UK build motorways that are generally free to use by everyone."

              They have toll roads in the US...

              1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

                Re: Dangerous?

                They have toll roads in the US...

                And in the UK, but they are the exception.

                1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                  Re: Dangerous?

                  They have toll roads in the US...

                  And in the UK, but they are the exception.

                  At least by mileage. If Wikipedia is to be believed on this topic, the US has around 5000 miles of toll roads. Presumably most of those are on the numbered highway systems (defense highways and Interstates), of which there are around 161000 miles. So about 3%.

                  By number of vehicles or passenger-miles or the like, who knows? Toll roads do tend to be some of the more heavily-traveled routes. But mileage is one reasonable metric: you can do a lot of driving in the US without hitting a toll road.

                  And there are generally alternative routes around the tolls if you really want to avoid them. I often skip I-70 when I drive to Kansas, incidentally bypassing the tolls, simply because the back roads are more interesting. It adds perhaps half an hour to a 13-hour drive.

              2. Avatar of They Silver badge

                Re: Dangerous?

                We have toll roads and crossing in the UK as well to be fair. (M6 Toll being the main one that springs to mind)

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How do they actually define dangerous?

      say, a carbon monoxide sensor, which, apparently, does not "sense", as mentioned by the beeb a few days ago.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dangerous?

      In the case of non-noncompliant motorcycle helmets then yes because they are specifically banned from sale/supply in the EU.

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    What about when you buy magnesium ribbon, and Amazon suggests a couple pounds of iron and aluminum powder to go with that?

    1. Matthew Anderson

      Then you go have lots of back garden funz, preferably with tinted goggles and the ability to run backwards at great speed

    2. macjules Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Consumers should be just as safe when they buy online, as when they buy in a shop. I welcome the Product Safety Pledge which will further improve consumer safety.

      I suppose that if we want to make in-store shopping like online shopping we should place cameras right over where the point where you enter your PIN number, have sales assistants that nag you with, "hey you bought that: how about buying this as well?" and promises to deliver your purchases at a time and date guaranteed to not suit you.

      Oh, and the store has no security at all, leaves its doors unlocked at night and keeps your credit card details in a bucket marked 'S3' in the basement.

      1. James Anderson

        Obviously you have not been to a real shop recently.

        The cashiers at w.h. Smith always try to upsell you a bottle of water or giant kit-Kat.

        Stack in a long queue at the local DIY store the cashier spent an extra minute with each customer trying to interest them in a USB charger.

  3. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

    Define Dangerous Please

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Re: Define Dangerous Please

      It's based on a complex algorithm related to how often the product appears in Google searches alongside "Hold my beer and watch this."

    2. Chloe Cresswell

      Re: Define Dangerous Please

      For lighting/etc type items "Has Big Clive bought it" might be a starting criteria.. ;)

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Define Dangerous Please

      There are plenty of regulations out there that define what dangerous is.

      The certification for sale of most types of good (food, electrical, clothing, children's toys etc.) ensure that the products have been legally declared safe (CE mark, for example).

      But a lot of clothing and toys still get through that are either toxic or downright dangerous (kids' cuddly toys that have stiff wires in them that can poke through and cause injury or the use of lead base paints, for example).

      1. mark l 2 Silver badge

        Re: Define Dangerous Please

        I personally don't think you can't really rely on a CE mark as a way of identifying whether an item is dangerous or not, especially as a uneducated end user.

        You can buy stuff which has a fake CE mark from Chinese sellers on ebay/Amazon which has never undergone any testing and could be dangerous, but appears to be safe. And I am assuming it works the other way too, you can buy stuff without CE marks that I am sure are perfectly safe but have never been tested to prove it.

        1. rmason Silver badge

          Re: Define Dangerous Please

          Ah, the good old "china Export (CE) stamp.

          Which just happens to be identical to the 'real' CE mark but off by a few MM.

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Define Dangerous Please

          has never undergone any testing

          You don't need testing to qualify for a CE mark. Outside of some specific categories it is all based on self-certification: "To affix the CE marking to your product, you must put together a technical dossier proving that your product fulfils all the EU-wide requirements. As the product's manufacturer, you bear sole responsibility for declaring conformity with all requirements. Once your product bears the CE marking, you might have to provide your distributors and/or importers with all the supporting documentation" (my emphasis).

          If you want a product backed by testing and assessment you should look for DIN, UL or a BSI Kitemark. They actually mean something, CE doesn't.

        3. Shoe

          Re: Define Dangerous Please

          If there's a CE mark but no EU manufacturer/importer details on, then it's not a real CE mark. The purpose of the mark is as a declaration by the responsible company in the EU that the product is safe and legal.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Define Dangerous Please

            The responsible organisation is the importer - which is why Trading Standards et al can fine Ebay sellers and seize their goods.

            Not that they bother very often.

  4. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Is it just me?

    Did anyone else have trouble working out why the abbreviation of "Product Safety Pledge" was "PDF"?

    Need... more... coffee...

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Is it just me?

      Not just you.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well

    That's the whole wangdoodle of IOTs banjaxed then.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Well

      See, there is always a silver lining.

  6. Blockchain commentard

    Exploding phones

    Don't some iPhones and Samsung's have a tendency to get a touch 'explody'? If I warn Amazon etc. are they going to pull them? I doubt eBay would, considering the amount of 2nd hand ones they help sell.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "reporting products they feel are unsafe"

    "they feel"

    Bye-bye amazon. I can imagine over protective soccer-moms banning 90+ percent of products because they "feel'" it's dangerous. You can't buy drones because it could poke someone in the eye. You can't buy glass beakers to measure stuff because they saw that being used to make meth in breaking bad. Same for any chemical. And tools. And a ton of other stuff.

    SJWs flagging stuff as dangerous because they find it "offensive" by some deranged "logic".

    1. 's water music Silver badge
      Boffin

      Anonymous Coward

      "reporting products they feel are unsafe"

      "they feel"

      [...] SJWs flagging stuff as dangerous because they find it "offensive" by some deranged "logic"

      Careful that a stalk from your straw-man doesn't poke you in the eye. I may have to report it for your own protection. :-)

      Also beware of RSI from overuse of "scare" quotes

      looks like PPE ---->

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Considering that they expect the users to flag products based on their feelings/perceptions, and not people who are hired and trained to actually check the products, we can reasonably expect that flagging things will be done on a very subjective basis.

        A lot of things are already needlessly overregulated/banned based on the "think of the children!" argument.

        And it's not like as if SJWs haven't ever used/abused reporting functions on social media to supress politically/ideologically opposing stuff or just things that they, for whatever reason, find offensive.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And here we see a prime example of why "SJW" has lost all usefulness as any kind of descriptor, since numpties will just toss it out there to mean anything.

      1. Alister Silver badge

        I do wonder if half the people who splurge the SJW acronym around even know what it stands for, nowadays.

    3. LDS Silver badge
      Joke

      "I can imagine over protective soccer-moms banning"

      I'm more afraid of over-protective Linux-brothers trying to ban any Microsoft product as unsafe and dangerous...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's say you are an American and you buy a product that is banned in the EU as dangerous and something happens, does that mean Amazon etc.. are liable because they were aware of the danger?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      I do hope so.

      The Brussels Effect in action.

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      "does that mean Amazon etc.. are liable because they were aware of the danger?"

      No, but I'm sure some American will sue Amazon claiming exactly that.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        I'm sure some American will sue Amazon claiming exactly that.

        I don't know why you were downvoted. I haven't bothered checking LexisNexis or Westlaw or anything, but I would imagine more than a few lawsuits have been filed against Amazon on all sorts of spurious bases.

        Ridiculous lawsuits are an American tradition, and there's no reason to think that will change.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meddling EU

    One Britain leaves we'll be free to buy whatever lead-paint coloured, flaming toxic death products we so wish.

    Freedom!

  10. Bert 1

    But what about just plain crap?

    I'm seriously considering weaning myself from my Amazon addiction.

    It is getting so hard to filter out the stuff that is just plan crap!

    Things I have been bitten by (and not always returned)

    Hair colour

    Thermostat

    Cable holder

    Earphones

    USB cables

    Ceramic light sockets

    Mains socket timer

    It's got to the point where you can't trust the reviews, and it's not always obvious where the products are being shipped from.

    Oh, and "Prime" rarely delivers next day any more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But what about just plain crap?

      I use fakespot.com to narrow down my shortlist - anything with junk/fake reviews gets removed

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But what about just plain crap?

      If something looks too good to be true on price avoid it.

      Like usb cables, sure I can 4000 for £5 or one for 20p (exaggeration of course but not far off) I'll pick the one that's realistic at 3 quality cables for £5-7 that aren't going to fall apart or ruin the device I'm plugging it into but yes the general quality is on it's way to the ebay standard of cheap knock off shi*te.

    3. LDS Silver badge
      Megaphone

      "It's got to the point where you can't trust the reviews"

      There's a lot of "paid-for" reviews on Amazon (sometimes just reimbursing the price paid for the product, so it appears as a "verified purchase", some then re-sell the product and make more money) ... both positive and negative (bashing competitors). If you know the products, they are often easy to spot - in some languages even more, because often the "reviewer" is not a native speaker, but not always.

      Be very careful about Amazon reviews...

  11. Paul 195
    FAIL

    Hurrah that Brexit will soon free us from nanny-statism getting between consumers and rapacious multinationals! Hurrah! Facebook will be free to slurp as much data from us as it likes! Hurrah! Amazon can resume the profitable business of selling exploding hoverboards, butterfly knives, and god knows what else into the UK in only a year's time.

    I can't wait.

    1. PapaD

      British Nanny State

      Erm

      If you think brexit is going to reduce nanny-state-ism in the UK, you really haven't been paying attention for the last 50+ years.

      Westminster are notorious for trying to create a nanny state. Either by outlawing the viewing of things that you are legally allowed to do, or going all Mary Whitehouse on everything even remotely fun.

      1. 's water music Silver badge

        Re: British Nanny State

        @PapaD I suspect that whooshing sound is probably a Nanny flying past by her umbrella. Either that or Paul 195's point

  12. MrKrotos

    This is a joke

    It must be, as when I contacted Ebay and pointed out that there was a ton of laptop PSU for sale that were clearly "Chinese Export" and NOT "CE" they wernt interested and the items are still for sale.

  13. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Luckily, UK will soon have none of this EU-nonsense clout, and will be free too strike out on its own, and forge its many, many own laws. (Not red tape, much better laws, for sure.)

    The first such law will be to always keep a suitable lubricant handy, in case US shows up.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aw, blimmin' great.

    There goes my chance of ever buying a Satsuma Castanet.

  15. codejunky Silver badge

    Ha

    is a "voluntary commitment" by the retailers, although the EC will hold the threat of legislation

    So not voluntary. It is an oppressor saying do it or we will force you! Oh yey isnt that a wonderful way to live. Not!

    My only hope is when they insist everyone is wrapped in cotton wool for their own protection from the big bad world the EU gov do it first. That way they might suffocate before we do. With these idiots in charge our ancestors would have frozen to death because fire is too dangerous and they cant possibly look after themselves.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Ha

      Are you suggesting the UK government is a stranger to the "let's have a voluntary agreement but we could legislate if you don't be good" approach?

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Ha

        @ Dan 55

        I am in no way defending a government who would make law by avoiding making laws but imposing its will outside of laws. I am against such practice and would likely vote against a gov who took that approach.

    2. Paul 195
      Facepalm

      Re: Ha

      I quite agree. The idea that merchants should be forced to only sell items that match the description and meet all relevant safety legislation is clearly bonkers. Would you be interested in signing a petition to scrap the MOT as well, since these killjoys are determined to keep deathtraps off the roads? I'd suggest that legislation on who and who can't service and install equipment connected to the gas main is also outdated red tape which only serves to stifle innovative business models. There's no limit once we free our imaginations.

      1. MK_E

        Re: Ha

        I remember when I was a kid, I went into the library and there was a stack of free comic-looking things there so I took one, and it turned out to be a thing for educating kids about their rights as consumers under the sale of goods act.

        The thing is, they'd got the guys from 2000AD to do it. So my education on the way in which merchants need to sell items as described and fit for purpose literally came from Judge Dredd.

        1. codejunky Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Ha

          @ MK_E

          "The thing is, they'd got the guys from 2000AD to do it. So my education on the way in which merchants need to sell items as described and fit for purpose literally came from Judge Dredd."

          That is cool

          1. Paul 195

            Re: Ha

            Don't you kind of wish for a world where Trading Standards Officers were like Judge Dredd? "Step away from the botulism laced hotdogs, perp!" On reflection though, that might (literally) be overkill.

      2. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Ha

        @ Paul 195

        It is amazing to see how the mind works for some people. To start with my comment particularly rails against the EU imposing laws without imposing laws. The idea of making people comply with a non-existent law that doesnt need writing only applying.

        It is interesting you compare things as they are to scrapping the MOT. I assume you have difficulties with equivalence? Or maybe you have a bugbear you just had to let out at something, anything, oh woe think of the children. Be aware you are comparing the MOT against something the EU isnt even making a law but a threat to make one if people do not bow down to its will.

        Although law isnt necessarily a law if someone cant be bothered applying a law, or a president of France actively decides his people wont obey the EU law-

        http://www.continentaltelegraph.com/brexit/how-to-kill-the-eu-enforce-the-eus-laws/

        Remember Paul this is to save the children and safety. If the French dont label their fish in the correct manor they may next resort to not labelling their roads!!!! Oh woe.

  16. Kev99 Bronze badge

    Actually, I'm glad the EU is doing this. Under the current "leadership (or lack thereof) in the US, it will soon be perfectly legal to sell cyanide laced donuts and loose bolt vehicles in the US.

  17. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    The big problems being ...

    As already mentioned, this cannot possibly work.

    If the items carry a CE mark then the seller can "claim" that they are compliant and the big four are abusing their dominance by blocking legitimate products. Get the popcorn out.

    But as already said, the CE mark is something the manufacturer (or importer) sticks on a product themselves - supposedly after having gone through the right processed to ensure compliance. So for "cheap tat" knockoffs shipped direct from China, there really isn't a way to know if the CE mark is genuine and the product is safe, or it's just the "Chinese Export" mark. Even large professional retailers in the EU can get caught out - there are plenty of tales of them having goods (eg USB PSUs) made in China where the samples are all OK and pass (eg) EMC testing, but once the production units start flowing, there are components (eg input filtering to achieve EMC compliance) left out to save manufacturing costs.

    The average punter won't have a clue how to spot the genuine & safe "kettle lead" vs the dangerous one with unfused plug (OK, that should be obvious - but the rest not), non-conformant plug size, sleeved earth pin, undersize copper in the cable, etc. The average punter doesn't know the details of BS1363 - just that if it fits a "13A socket" then it's a "13A plug". Once you get into more complicated things (like laptop PSUs) then there's no chance.

    I can see this being almost completely ineffective, while screwing up honest vendors caught up in "bad feedback" from dim witted buyers.

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