A License to Smear Companies

By March 3, 2008Miscellaneous

Down below in the extended entry we’ve put the text of Section 7 of S. 2663, the CPSC Reform Act. The section would give carte blanche to anybody, no matter the motivation, to post anonymous claims about a company’s products on a government-sponsored website. From subsection 9:

Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of the CPSC Reform Act, the Commission shall establish and maintain a publicly available searchable database accessible on the Commission’s web site. The database shall include any reports of injuries, illness, death, or risk of such injury, illness, or death related to the use of consumer products received by the Commission from–

`(i) consumers;

`(ii) local, State, or Federal government agencies;

`(iii) health care professionals, including physicians, hospitals, and coroners;

`(iv) child service providers;

`(v) public safety entities, including police and fire fighters; and

`(vi) other non-governmental sources, other than information provided to the Commission by retailers, manufacturers, or private labelers pursuant to a voluntary or required submission under section 15 or other mandatory or voluntary program.

Injury, illness or death, or risk thereof — that’s an invitation to any sort of outlandish claim.

And it’s certainly not the “transparency” that activists like to throw around as an unalloyed public good:

(G) DISCLOSURE- The Commission may not disclose the names or addresses of consumers pursuant to its authority under this subsection.”

Got that? Anonymous charges about anything, naming a company as producer of a dangerous or adulterated product. You can picture unsubstantiated complaints piling up one after another, generating a feeding frenzy that does serious harm to a company’s reputation (and the reputations of associated individuals). With no benefit to the public health.

One word for the provision: Irresponsible.


SEC. 7. PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION.

Section 6 (15 U.S.C. 2055) is amended–

(1) by inserting `A manufacturer or private labeler shall submit any such mark within 15 calendar days after the date on which it receives the Commission’s offer.’ after `paragraph (2).’ in subsection (a)(3);

(2) by striking `30 days’ in subsection (b)(1) and inserting `15 days’;

(3) by striking `finds that the public’ in subsection (b)(1) and inserting `publishes a finding that the public’;

(4) by striking `notice and publishes such a finding in the Federal Register),’ in subsection (b)(1) and inserting `notice),’;

(5) by striking `10 days’ in subsection (b)(2) and inserting `5 days’;

(6) by striking `finds that the public’ in subsection (b)(2) and inserting `publishes a finding that the public’;

(7) by striking `notice and publishes such a finding in the Federal Register.’ in subsection (b)(2) and inserting `notice.’;

(8) in subsection (b)–

(A) by striking `(3)’ and inserting `(3)(A)’; and

(B) by adding at the end thereof the following:

`(B) If the Commission determines that the public health and safety requires expedited consideration of an action brought under subparagraph (A), the Commission may file a request with the District Court for such expedited consideration. If the Commission files such a request, the District Court shall–

`(i) assign the matter for hearing at the earliest possible date;

`(ii) give precedence to the matter, to the greatest extent practicable, over all other matters pending on the docket of the court at the time;

`(iii) expedite consideration of the matter to the greatest extent practicable; and

`(iv) grant or deny the requested injunction within 30 days after the date on which the Commission’s request was filed with the court.’;

(9) by striking `section 19 (related to prohibited acts);’ in subsection (b)(4) and inserting `any consumer product safety rule or provision of this Act or similar rule or provision of any other Act enforced by the Commission;’;

(10) by striking `or’ after the semicolon in subsection (b)(5)(B);

(11) by striking `disclosure.’ in subsection (b)(5)(C) and inserting `disclosure; or’;

(12) by inserting in subsection (b)(5) after subparagraph (C) the following:

`(D) the Commission publishes a finding that the public health and safety requires public disclosure with a lesser period of notice than is required under paragraph (1).’;

(13) in the matter following subparagraph (D) of subsection (b)(5) (as added by paragraph (12) of this section), by striking `section 19(a),’ and inserting `any consumer product safety rule or provision under this Act or similar rule or provision of any other Act enforced by the Commission,’; and

(14) by adding at the end of subsection (b) the following:

`(9) PUBLICLY AVAILABLE DATABASE OF REPORTED DEATHS, INJURIES, ILLNESS, AND RISK OF SUCH INCIDENTS-

`(A) IN GENERAL- Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of the CPSC Reform Act, the Commission shall establish and maintain a publicly available searchable database accessible on the Commission’s web site. The database shall include any reports of injuries, illness, death, or risk of such injury, illness, or death related to the use of consumer products received by the Commission from–

`(i) consumers;

`(ii) local, State, or Federal government agencies;

`(iii) health care professionals, including physicians, hospitals, and coroners;

`(iv) child service providers;

`(v) public safety entities, including police and fire fighters; and

`(vi) other non-governmental sources, other than information provided to the Commission by retailers, manufacturers, or private labelers pursuant to a voluntary or required submission under section 15 or other mandatory or voluntary program.

`(B) ADDITIONAL CONTENTS- In addition to the reports described in subparagraph (A), the Commission may include in the database any additional information it determines to be in the public interest.

`(C) ORGANIZATION OF DATABASE- The Commission shall categorize the information available on the database by date, product, manufacturer, the model of the product, and any other category the Commission determines to be in the public interest.

`(D) TIMING- The Commission shall make such reports available on the Commission website no later than 15 days after the date on which they are received.

`(E) REMOVAL OF INACCURATE OR INCORRECT INFORMATION- If the Commission determines, after investigation, that information made available on the database is incorrect the Commission shall promptly remove it from the database.

`(F) MANUFACTURER COMMENTS- A manufacturer, private labeler, or retailer shall be given an opportunity to comment on any information involving a product manufactured by that manufacturer, or distributed by that private labeler or retailer, as the case may be. Any such comments may be included in the database alongside the information involving such product if requested by the manufacturer, private labeler, or retailer.

`(G) DISCLOSURE- The Commission may not disclose the names or addresses of consumers pursuant to its authority under this subsection.

`(H) APPLICATION WITH OTHER PROVISIONS- Subsection (a) and the preceding paragraphs of this subsection do not apply to the public disclosure of information received by the Commission under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph.’.

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