My new Townhall.com column concerns the database which the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act of 2008 obliges the Consumer Products Safety Commission to establish and open to the public by March of 2011.
The segment I did on the database on Thursday with one of my law partners who is an expert on the CPSIA, Liz McNulty, generated a large number of calls and e-mails from concerned manufacturers over what one commentator to my column called a “government sponsored flame war” –an apt description of the new database. Liz’s advice to manufacturers: Begin immediately to design a response strategy to the “reports” which will be filed with the CPSC and made public in the database. Many of the “reports” alleging serious product defects will require an immediate and thorough response while others will be better left unanswered. It will depend on the product category, the nature of the “report,” and the litigation background for the product involved.
As Rob Neppell of Kithbridge.com has often argued on my program, the manufacturer who does not already have in place blog and web tracking of all references to their products or services is flying blind in the new era of social media. The manufacturer who does not have a plan of response to the new database is asking to be hammered by the plaintiffs’ bar.
The obvious and immediate response is to begin now to urge members of Congress to revisit this portion of CPSIA as part of any review of the law that has already compiled a long list of disasterous unintended consequences.