Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Garbage In...Garbage Out

Over the next few weeks, I will explain in detail the *MAIN FLAWS* in the database rule as currently proposed. It is my hope that this Commission will listen to the commenters and make significant, necessary changes before finalizing this rule:


The CPSIA only mentions five categories of submitters: consumers; local, State, or Federal government agencies; health care professionals; child service providers; and public safety entities. Anyone looking at this list would see a common thread—these are all people who might have first-hand knowledge of the incident. Why would Congress have included this list, if it actually intended anyone to be able to submit a report? The answer is, it didn’t. Thus, the rule’s list of submitters should not include those who have no relationship to the incident in question.

But as currently conceived, anyone will be able to submit a “report of harm” to the new, public database—even if the submitter does not know who was harmed, the particular product involved (let alone the exact model), and did not see the incident occur. As of right now, in a national database full of incidents across all consumer products (everything from toasters, to ATVs, to furniture), we are not even limiting who can submit to people who have first-hand knowledge of an incident!

Why is this important? Because Congress intended to create a useful, accurate database for consumers wishing to make a purchase. But this database will not be useful to consumers if random bystanders, attorneys, advocacy groups or even well-intentioned citizens without key facts can fill it with unreliable reports. It will simply be garbage in…garbage out.

More to come…

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