UPDATED 7/17/2019: Six of the seven bills listed below – all of the product-specific bills – are now on their way to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. The House Energy & Commerce Committee and its Subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Commerce have both reported the bills favorably. The Subcommittee amended five of the bills, as noted below.

The committees did not consider the Fast Track recall bill. However, leadership from both parties committed to further collaboration and to moving the issue forward, recognizing the need to help the CPSC and companies execute recalls faster.

All of the votes in both committees were bipartisan. With a divided Congress, maintaining consensus will likely be essential to the bills’ chances in the Senate. Because of the need for consensus, CPSC-regulated companies and industries have a valuable opportunity for meaningful congressional engagement. Members usually respond to the concerns of the job-creators in their districts, and the drive for bipartisanship on these bills will only make members more receptive.


The U.S. House Consumer Protection & Commerce Subcommittee will hold a legislative markup session on Thursday for several bills related to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This session follows the subcommittee’s April CPSC oversight hearing, which focused on the big picture, asking whether or not the CPSC is fulfilling its mission.
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We have recently written about the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) mistaken disclosure of sensitive information and the CPSC’s current data-protection processes and their limits. In the weeks and months ahead, we anticipate a determined challenge to those limited but vital protections. Here, we make the case for why CPSC stakeholders who appreciate their value should prepare to defend them.
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Many manufacturers were affected by the CPSC’s improper disclosure of a mountain of sensitive information, including both company data and consumers’ personally identifying information. While the full repercussions are not yet clear, the disclosure creates the risk that third parties will misunderstand and mischaracterize the information.

This incident also presents an opportunity for companies and CPSC observers to reexamine the processes that are intended to prevent unfair disclosures. The CPSC is often asked to disclose sensitive information, and typically companies can weigh in when the CPSC responds to these requests. But are companies really afforded meaningful opportunity to comment?
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Reportedly, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is notifying companies of what could be considered a data breach, an unauthorized release of confidential information that did not go through the procedures of 15 U.S.C. § 2055” – known colloquially as “6(b),” because they are found in Section 6(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA).
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When California enacted SB 327 last year, it became the first state to regulate Internet of Things (IoT) devices, which refer to physical devices that are connected to the internet. Beginning next January, the new law will require manufacturers of IoT devices sold in California to implement reasonable security features that protect the software, data, and information contained within them. While the law regulates only the minimum security standards for IoT devices, its definition of a “connected device” (i.e., an IoT device) may impact product liability claims because “connected devices” are physical objects and not technology. SB 327’s definition suggests that manufacturers of the software in IoT devices may not be held strictly liable for software defects, because the law aligns with and reinforces the view of most courts that software is not a product, but a service.
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The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will hold a public hearing next month to solicit ways to improve www.saferproducts.gov, the agency’s public consumer product information database. Mandated by Congress and not meaningfully altered since its launch nearly eight years ago, the database provides a centralized location for consumers and stakeholders to report potential product-safety incidents and conduct searches for product-safety reports or recalls. Its current form was approved on a party-line commission vote after heated debate.
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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been reopened for a week – possibly a third of the window between government shutdowns – and things seem to be quickly returning to normal. The agency has released messaging campaigns on both generator safety and TV anchoring, taking advantage of bitterly cold weather and what football fans hope will be a bitterly contested Super Bowl. But behind this appearance of normalcy, a key remaining question is how the agency will approach what must be a significant backlog of product reports.
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As the partial federal government shutdown enters its second week, businesses both large and small should be aware of the shutdown’s implications for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and for product safety. Companies should be aware that their obligations under CPSC continue, despite that their partner in product safety is absent until its funding is restored.

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