CPSIA Update: The Database that Ate Manufacturers

By May 10, 2010Regulations

The Consumer Product Safety Commission today posted its notice of proposed rulemaking for the public consumer complaint database. Excerpt:

Section 212 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (“CPSIA”) amended the Consumer Product Safety Act (“CPSA”) to require the Commission to establish and maintain a publicly available, searchable database on the safety of consumer products, and other products or substances regulated by the Commission. The proposed rule would interpret various statutory requirements pertaining to the information to be included in the database and also would establish provisions regarding submitting reports of harm; providing notice of reports of harm to manufacturers; publishing reports of harm and manufacturer comments in the database; and dealing with confidential and materially inaccurate information.

This is the database that has alarmed manufacturers, who fear that it will become a poorly monitored site that encourages reputation-harming complaints and salting by product-liability attorneys. Unfortunately, even as the House Energy and Commerce Committee considers modest fixes to the consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, the database has been declared a settled matter not open to legislative review.

Commissioner Anne Northup is unhappy with the notice. She writes at her blog, Safety and Common Sense:

Today the CPSC released the proposed rule for the notorious Public Database (aka the Publicly Available Consumer Product Safety Information Database). I’m sorry to say that it was drafted exclusively by the Majority Party Members of the Commission with next to no input from the Minority Members. As a result, the draft rule is very one-sided in its treatment of accuracy, privacy, and usefulness concerns. Here is an unsolicited (though I believe correct) view that was published independently or you can click here to read my official statement.

The public now has 60 days to comment, so please do yourself a favor and examine this rule carefully!

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