Thursday, February 24, 2011

CPSIA - ICPHSO Update on the Database

Cheryl Falvey announced at the beginning of this overtime Q&A session that she wants to have a civilized discussion of the problems of the database, because they want to solve problems. That said, she said she'd cut it short if it turns into a gripe session about the database "because I know you hate the database".

Nice, at least the General Counsel of the CPSC has an open mind! This reminds me of her aggressive and utterly unsympathetic suggestion at the November 2008 CPSC Lead Panel that we should all have a big "yard sale" of products that exceed the lead standard. Gave me a warm feeling then, gives me a warm feeling now.

I will try to craft some questions that she will find acceptable.

CF: Need to have your licensees register as part of the database. Licensors can also be listed as a "viewer" under the DB. They may not want that, because there could be liability issues.

[RW: Hmmm, I thought this database was all about empowering consumers. Liability? Empowering consumers to do WHAT?]

CF: More details given to licensors [aimed at Disney, who must have raised this question offline] plus some legal advice on how they should structure their licensing agreements "right now".

CF: It's a "complaint" database, not a "causation" database. [RW: This makes NO sense based on the stories they all tell about why they want the database implemented, especially the fantastic story told by Inez Tenenbaum in her keynote speech. She says she feels good when someone removes a product from use while the CPSC is working on a recall. This is CLEARLY all about making a JUDGMENT on the products - in other words, CAUSATION. It's a tall tale to contend that the general public will understand that this is a complaint database. Consume groups promote the database as a warehouse of the truth, not just a "blog". Cheryl Falvey is spinning yarns to justify her work on the database.]

CF: You are raising policy questions and this meeting is not about policy. We were dealt this hand and were told by the Commission to get the database up and running. If you disagree with the policy, you need to take it to the Hill. I am going to take other questions now.

[RW: So we cannot complain about the consequences of CPSC action on the database because they're just doing their job. We must hold them harmless and "get used to it". This is an old argument used by Falvey in past speeches - don't be in denial, it's coming, get used to it, take it on board. My question for you - do you like being treated this way? I don't.]

Q: We have been the victim of fraud where people submit pictures of "injury" pulled from the Internet. We also don't get enough data from you, may not have consumer's contact information and don't have the time or resources to properly research or resolve these accusations before the ten days are up. At that point, the damage is irreversible. What can we do to protect ourselves?

A: We have not had bad experiences in the "soft launch". We don't want you to be hurt, you should "raise" these issues. [Didn't she say this morning that they received so many photos that they had to get new servers? No problelms . . . .]

[RW: Fingers-in-ears. This does not correspond to the rules, Cheryl, and you didn't answer the question. The question notes that there won't be enough time or information to verify or sort out the claim before it's published. Why are you deaf to this? You know that your publication of this data CANNOT be remedied. Oh yeah, you are just doing your job.]

Q: Why can't you just test this system with people who have already registered and learn about the issues from this experience?

A: Your idea is a "great idea" and we will see if we can run with it.

[RW: Don't hold your breath.]

CF: We really want to talk about the brand and license issue!

Q: What will happen to me if an injury report blaming me for an exploding battery is actually counterfeit?

A: The interest is in protecting the public, that's the policy issue. The disclaimer seems to mean a lot to Cheryl, cures all these ills. She poses the question of whether bulking up the disclaimer.

[RW: The answer to all of these question boils down to the fact that manufacturers have no due process rights because their rights are deemed inferior to consumers. This is a policy decision, too, and is NOT part of the law. It's the philosophy of the CPSC these days, and is political in nature. Using Falvey to announce the policy makes it look more like a legal judgment, however. Falvey has not explained HOW due process rights guaranteed by the Constitution have been removed for U.S. corporations under the CPSIA.]

CF: Can't put off the March 11th implementation of the database.

[RW: Recall my remark about an open mind. This isn't a gripe session, this is a venting session hosted by Cheryl Falvey. She has no interest in making any changes - consumer groups get their way. Mike Pompeo's amendment better become law. The CPSC will do NOTING to address known defects in the database. As Falvey says, these are "policy" issues, outside her job spec.]

Q: Can manufacturers reply or comment privately?

A: Nope, if you comment, the comments need to be published. Only the confidential parts of the comment won't be posted. [RW: This is so unbelievably one-sided. It's victory for the left wing. They put their people in charge and let them run amok.]

Q: We share brands with other companies (think of celebrity brands). How will you handle notification tied to such brands on multiple products?

A: The tracking labels would really solve all of these problems! We need to be able to send the notice to somebody. We understand the gap and are working to make the system better. We have a lot of brand information already.

Q: We traditionally get written notices that identify us as a manufacturer of a halogen table lamp. We make 20 halogen table lamps. What will happen under the database?

A: You'll get the notice and if you can't give us information on the product, one of us will have to call the customer. In any event, the data will go up on the database.

[RW: This is a classic problem illustrating how manufacturers will be unable to verify information or contest information before it's posted. As Falvey demonstrates, CPSC policy is that this is the manufacturer's problem. This is a travesty. Ironically, the issue was subtle enough that the questioner (a large company) could not see that he is prevented from identifying the product - even to verify that he made it - but will be labeled the source of a product "incident". And Falvey says that a claim this lame will still make the cut to be published. Is that true? I wonder about that. If it doesn't make the cut, then Falvey can't match the rules to a scenario accurately. One way or another, it's a screwing. Thanks, CPSC!]

Q: If Li & Fung registers and gives my name as importer of record, who gets the notice?

A: We will go off the consumer complaint. Whoever is named will get the complaint. If they are registered, they will get it by email. If they are not, they get it snail mail. It's still going up in ten days.

[RW: It's worth recalling that I testified at the original database hearing. As was the case in three of my five appearances at the CPSC, it was at the CPSC's request. I gave a very detailed dissection of the database, and distinctly recall being cut off by the Commission for going past ten minutes. They asked me to give comments, fly out at my own expense, and then cut me off. This abysmal attempt at public policy is the result. Screwing from square one.]

What a nauseating way to finish out such a lovely day.


Ben S said...

Your updates are appreciated. Can't wait to hear about "How to Negotiate with the CPSC Workshop" hosted by Mr. Adler (my bet is on a two word summary).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the insight into the person who declared the CPSIA should be applied retroactively, making previously safe products unsafe simply because they haven't been tested to prove they are safe.

halojones-fan said...

It's absolutely amazing to me that a government official, speaking to representatives of the industry she's been given power to regulate, would say things that amount to "I don't know", "not our problem", and "shut up".

This is teenager behavior. These are the actions of someone who knows how stupid she's been, but wants to pretend like if we all just ignore it for a while then everything will blow over.