Monday May 06, 2019
Anti-6(b) Side Shows It Sees Disclosure Situation Differently
The argument over the meaning of CPSC's disclosure of information outside the 6(b) process is shaping up. On one side are those worried that the agency needs to improve its procedures to ensure against recurrence. On the other are those who suggest the situation shows that 6(b) is counter to the agency's mission. The arguments are not new, many going back decades.
Initial reactions to the situation have come from industry so got most attention. Those focused on concern about potential harms from the situation, especially if not fixed.
However, the anti-6(b) reactions gained momentum at the May 1 CPSC hearing on its FY2020-FY2021 priorities. The gist was that the released information was in the public interest and would have been released without controversy at other agencies that lack 6(b)-like restrictions.
In response to concerns of unwarranted corporate harm due to inaccurate revelations or about unscrupulous reports by competitors, disclosure advocates asked whether any such problems actually exist at CPSC's sister agencies.
Even the fallback of the law-is-the-law-so-must-be-followed was countered with the assertion that CPSC's 6(b) rules go beyond what the law mandates. That argument was raised against 6(b) for CPSC's 2014 NPR (PSL, 2/17/14) to change some procedures with an aim towards easing disclosures. It has lingered since then, mostly unaddressed.
Meanwhile, Consumer Reports, one of the 6(b) critics at the hearing, April 30 published an article critical of the law (bit.ly/2vyJsW1), including that it "hides dangerous products," "impedes recalls," "has endangered children" and "has…kept parents in the dark."