The Role of Transparency in the Information Age of Product Safety - The Future of 6(b)

International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO) Conference

February 19, 2020 from 8:15 am to 9:15 am (EST)

Timed almost one year after the CPSC’s data breach was first made public, this session is intended to provide a clear overview of the data breach (unauthorized disclosure) and explore the policy and real world ramifications that the event has set in motion. The session would first set the stage by exploring what happened, including a brief overview of the Inspector General’s findings (if the report is available). Please note, this is not intended to place blame and will not be presented as such. The speakers, including partner Christie Thompson, led by questions posed by the moderator, would move into the policy issues raised by the data breach, including what will likely be a lively discussion of vastly different viewpoints of Section 6(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act and transparency of product safety information to consumers generally in today’s data driven world. The 6(b) discussion would be an exchange among the speakers that would cover the statute’s history, utility, differences with other federal agencies, etc. For example, NHTSA is capable of functioning without an analog of 6(b) - why is 6(b) necessary for the CPSC?

The speakers would also share viewpoints regarding federal legislation to eliminate or amend Section 6(b) that is likely to be pending at the time of the conference. The session will not merely be a policy debate about information disclosure, though. There will also be time set aside to discuss the fallout associated with the agency’s release of incident data for over 11,000 companies and best practices for how companies should manage such information being publicly disclosed, including lessons from other industry sectors where such information is commonly disclosed to the public. While some of the content covered at the St. Louis regional conference would be included, there will be new information to discuss and repetition of content will be minimized (although feedback is welcome - at the annual meeting more introduction to 6(b) could be welcome, for example, for first time participants, although returning attendees would likely find such material repetitive and unnecessary). Time will be devoted at the end of the session for questions from the audience submitted through the app but the moderator will also strive to interject audience questions during the discussion to keep the session lively and engaging for the audience.