Parents Warned About Leachco Infant Loungers
Product safety advocates are urging consumers to immediately stop using several Leachco infant loungers following an announcement from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) about two infant deaths related to the products.
“This is a product we’ve been urging the CPSC to address for years,” said Rachel Weintraub, Legislative Director and General Counsel with CFA. “Thankfully, parents who heed this warning will protect their children.”
The “Podsters,” which includes the Podster Plush, Bummzie, and Podster Playtime infant loungers, manufactured by Leachco Inc., were found to not be suitable for infants to safely sleep on. Two infant deaths have been connected to a Podster product. Investigations into their deaths found that both infants suffocated after their noses and mouths were obstructed by the Podster, or another object. The infant deaths include a 17-day-old infant who died in January 2018, and a four-month-old who died in December 2015. Approximately 180,000 Podsters have been sold.
The CPSC has emphasized that the best place for infants to sleep is “on a firm, flat surface in a crib, bassinet or play yard,” according to the CPSC statement. A new Infant Sleep Product Rule, proposed by the CPSC, would ensure that products sold for sleep are safe for unattended sleep for infants.
The Use of Biometric Technologies Must be Thoroughly Evaluated to Protect Personal Privacy
Following a request from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) for input about the public and private uses of biometric technologies, CFA, the Center for Digital Democracy, and EPIC submitted comments stressing “the importance of robust, timely, and transparent impact assessments to mitigate the privacy and human rights risks,” highlighting the need for “rigorous impact assessments that broadly consider the potential impact” of these technologies, and pointing out the “key factors impact assessments should consider.”
An impact assessment is an “analysis of how personally identifiable information will be collected, processed, stored, and transferred,” according to the comments. The groups wrote that requiring a prompt disclosure of impact assessments for biometric technologies “will help ensure that each institution conducts a sufficiently rigorous evaluation of privacy and human rights risks,” and force institutions “to justify the decision to introduce a given biometric technology.”
Impact assessments should address the following minimum factors:
- Mission and function creep
- Needless over-collection of data
- Lack of consent
- Failure to minimize
- Lack of transparency
- Lack of due diligence
- Lack of accountability
Impact assessments enable individuals and policymakers to respond to this technology before it is deployed and gives the public notice on how it will be used. These assessments “should be triggered in all instances where biometric technologies are or will be used,” and should be combined with a “system of governance that incorporates oversight and protects privacy and human rights.”
CFPB Must Prohibit Credit Reporting Agencies from Selling Key Personal Information
CFA joined a coalition of consumer and immigrant rights organizations urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to prohibit consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) from selling “credit header” information without a permissible purpose defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Credit header information refers to identifiers such as a consumer’s name, address, telephone number, and social security number. According to the coalition, this clarification would not require rulemaking and could be issued as guidance. Currently, credit header information is not considered a “consumer report” under the FCRA.
The FCRA does not allow consumer reporting agencies to provide information to anyone who does not have a purpose specified in the Act, and companies that provide information to CRAs have specific legal obligations.
In the letter, the coalition proposed removing “the exclusion of the credit header information from the definition of ‘consumer report’ under the FCRA.”
The CFPB needs to “make clear that credit header information is a consumer report, even if it is limited to names, addresses, and other identifiers, if the information originates from a consumer reporting agency,” the coalition wrote.
“Credit header information reveals sensitive, personal information of consumers who, for a variety of reasons, wish to keep that information private,” said Rachel Gittleman, Financial Services Outreach Manager for CFA. “It is both fair and important that the CFPB move to prohibit CRAs from selling this consumer identifying information without a permissible purpose.”
Competition in the Digital Sector in Jeopardy Unless Critical Oversight Changes are Made
With the Senate considering the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, and taking up some of the most pressing competition policy issues in the digital sector, CFA published an Issue Brief outlining the principles that should guide all efforts to reboot and recalibrate competition policy.
“CFA believes that the bill strikes the right balance in the effort to restore decentralized, competitive markets in the digital sector and throughout the economy,” said Dr. Mark Cooper, CFA’s Director of Research and author of the Issue Brief. “The dynamic economy that the uniquely American commitment to guardrails and guidance provided by antitrust and regulation requires aggressive, but disciplined action to reverse the mistakes of the past four decades.”
The Brief outlined the rapidly moving changes in the oversight of competition policy, and pointed out that antitrust enforcement has proven “ineffective for addressing America’s growing monopoly problem.” Cooper added that “a great deal of “unsound” precedent must be overcome, and that is where legislation may be necessary to recalibrate the practice of competition policy.”
The Brief listed various ways to rebalance competition policy without abandoning fundamental principles, including:
- shifting burdens of proof,
- adopting narrow definitions of relevant markets,
- adopting broad definitions of harm,
- focusing on competition and inequality,
- resurrecting structural solutions,
- putting efficiency and consumer welfare in its proper, long-term place by including quality, consumer choice, and innovation, and
- directing courts to place competition at the center of antitrust policy,
- to stop giving dominant firms the “benefit of the doubt,” and
- to treat anticompetitive conduct as the serious threat to consumer interests that it is.
“The big digital platforms are rightly the central focus at present because they have become so important, and because they have been allowed to get away with so much consumer harm,” Cooper said, “but ultimately the entire economy is afflicted by a market power problem that should be addressed.”
Survey Shows Californians Are Still Unaware of Privacy Rights Afforded by the CCPA
A survey conducted by CFA and Consumer Action for the California Privacy Initiative found that while two-thirds of California resident respondents saw the notice of their rights required by the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) on websites of businesses they visited, many had not exercised three of the law’s key rights because they did not realize that they could.
The CCPA went into effect in January 2020 and provides Californians the rights, among other things, to:
- Know what personal information a business collects about them and how it is used and shared
- Delete personal information collected from them (with some exceptions)
- Opt-out of the sale of their personal information
The survey is part of a project to educate Californians about the law and to encourage them to exercise their CCPA rights. In addition to asking 1,507 California residents 18-years-old or older about their awareness of and experience with the law, the survey asked whether businesses should be required to obtain people’s consent before collecting, using, selling or sharing their personal information for purposes other than to provide the goods or services they requested. Nine out of 10 survey respondents answered “yes” to that question.
Sixty-three percent said they’d asked businesses whose websites they visited in the previous year not to sell their data at least once, but of those who never made such requests, 42 percent said they didn’t know they could. That was also the main reason why survey respondents did not ask to see the data collected about them or delete it.
“It’s clear that the prominent ‘Do Not Sell My Personal Information’ option that businesses covered by the CCPA must display on their website homepages is being seen,” said Susan Grant, a senior fellow at CFA. “Still, it needs to be more obvious and easier for Californians to exercise their rights so they can get the full measure of privacy protection to which they’re entitled under the CCPA.”
CFA and Consumer Action have created a guide for consumers about their CCPA rights, which is currently in English and will soon be available in Spanish as well. The guide, survey report, and other materials produced for this project can be found at https://www.consumer-action.org/modules/module-ccpa-privacy.