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shopify abandons neutrality, bans guns from its platform

by:Tuowei     2019-09-07
Late Monday, Shopify unexpectedly stepped up the terms of its service agreement, banning the sale of multiple guns and ammunition.
Ottawa has angered online retailers who rely on Shopify\'s earlier commitment to respect the freedom of merchants to sell legitimate goods.
\"Over the past year, we spent a lot of time and money building our platform with Shopify technology,\" said Cole Leleux, general manager of Spike Tactical, a Florida business, tens of millions of dollars worth of weapons and ammunition are sold each year.
\"If Shopify had told us from the start, they had a No.
We should respect gun policy.
\"I am a free business person,\" Leleux added . \".
\"But it will take a few months to build another website.
\"Tells the twists and turns of Shopify\'s anti-corruption
Like thousands of other online merchants in North America, Leleux learned about changes in Shopify policy Monday night through a short corporate email.
It told him that Shopify had changed its acceptable use policy by banning the sale of certain weapons from websites established using Shopify technology.
\"It looks like your store may be affected by this change,\" the email notes . \".
When Leleux checked the details of the new policy, he found that more than 20 weapons and ammunition would be banned from
Automatic guns to guns printed using a 3D printer.
The ban covers most of his inventory, he said.
\"Everything we sell is legal and protected by the United States. S.
The Constitution, \"Leleux said.
Late Tuesday, Leleux was still trying to determine from Shopify how much time he had to comply with the new directive banning arms sales.
He has no choice but to comply because Shopify\'s technology supports the entire online operation.
The underlying software is also proprietary, making it difficult for Spike\'s tactics and other online retailers to quickly switch to another software provider.
Shopify declined to give details of the matter.
In a prepared statement, the company said: \"Shopify will review and revise from time to time the terms, conditions and policies governing the use of our platform.
We recently revised the acceptable use policy to limit the sale of certain firearms and parts on our platform.
\"It is not clear what prompted a change in policy, although the emergence of the ability to make guns using 3D printers could be a factor.
California\'s stricter gun control legislation covers many of the same weapons identified in Shopify\'s new policy.
Shopify executives have been working for years to develop a policy that respects the freedom of online merchants to sell legitimate goods and services, as well as community standards about what is appropriate.
There is a clear risk of banning Shopify merchants from selling legitimate weapons, no matter how popular the company\'s base in Canada is.
Last year, the company generated $0. 673 billion in revenue from the United States. S.
Gun culture is more deeply rooted in the United States.
Shopify earns revenue by providing an online storefront.
It also generates fees from a variety of software applications to help with payments, shipping products, and even financing the business.
A year ago, the company was criticized for providing technology that allowed rights
Wing website Breitbart operates and it is now possible to enter the United States in a very public wayS.
Debate over gun control
Shopify, as the designer of web services, has been trying to stay neutral.
But Tobias Lütke, founder and chief executive, and his board seem to think that neutrality is not an option.
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