Thursday, May 9th
Friday, May 10th
Consumer Assembly Conference Sessions
Are We Ready for Artificial Intelligence?
Equipped with algorithm-based software that enables them to “think” like humans, machines are increasingly being used to make decisions about people, from financial to health, employment to education. This panel of experts will discuss how AI works, its potential benefits and risks to consumers and society, and the technical, ethical, and legal challenges that must be addressed by government and business to ensure that AI serves in the best interest of the public.
Is the Price Right?
“Shopping around for the best price,” a common piece of consumer advice, is not always easy to do. Drip pricing, shrinking packaging, continuous sales, bait and switch tactics, and price disparities based on gender or other demographic factors can make it difficult for consumers to tell what the final price is and whether they are getting a fair deal. This session will explore these issues and how they should be addressed.
Cracking Down on Predatory Debt Collection Practices?
The debt collection industry impacts millions of Americans and many consumers face challenges with it, from attempts to collect debt that is not owed, to frequent and repeated calls – debt collection complaints are the second largest group of complaints fielded by the CFPB. The CFPB has signaled that a long-awaited federal rule is forthcoming and it is expected to cover issues ranging from communication practices to consumer disclosure, and the industry has said they welcome rules of the road. What should we look for when the CFPB’s proposal is released and what areas are ripe for Federal regulation? Can we find areas of common ground?
Protecting Safety in the Internet of Things
As more and more products are connected to the internet, consumer safety could be at increased risk if safety protection is not included in the earliest phases of product development. Electric scooters are hackable and their speed and start and stop functions could be controlled by a hacker. What is being done to protect consumers from these risks posed by connected products?
The Challenge of the Credit Invisibles
An estimated 26 million Americans are “credit invisible” or lacking a credit report. This can significantly limit their access to affordable consumer financial products. Low-income and minority consumers are more likely to be credit invisible or to have a record without a credit score which widens the gap significantly for access to affordable credit with higher-income Americans. Do we understand all of the down-stream impacts of being credit invisible? Consumer advocates and credit reporting agencies alike have been researching solutions – what progress has been made in finding alternatives to traditional credit scores?
Reining in Excessive Prescription Drug Prices
Excessive prescription drug prices threaten consumers’ health and financial well-being. What can policymakers at the state and federal levels do to rein in unaffordable and increasing prescription drug prices? What market reforms would increase competition and lower prescription drug prices for consumers? What are the best mechanisms to ensure prescription drug manufacturers and other actors in the prescription drug supply chain are held accountable for their pricing decisions?
Real Estate Agents: Ensuring Consumer Access to Information About Representation, Quality, and Price
Consumers depend on the services of real estate agents to buy or sell a home. But the industry has been criticized for denying consumers information about agent representation, quality of service, and commissions. What information is currently available, why is it important, and how can it be expanded?
Navigating a Post-Factual World
We are living in an era when “alternative facts” can carry great weight and influence policy debates. This phenomenon is particularly pronounced on social media, where misinformation can spread quickly and be exceedingly difficult to quell. How did we get to this point? What are the media doing to combat the growing threat of misinformation to society? How do advocates navigate this post-factual world in order to advance their policy agendas?
A Tale of Two Food Economies
For many U.S. consumers, the food system is working better than ever. Supermarkets offer fresh produce year-round, with an increasing selection of organic, “no antibiotics ever,” “fair trade,” and other third-party certified products that appeal to consumers’ values and health concerns. But the story is not the same across the country, and even within a given metropolitan area, consumers may face starkly different options. This panel will explore how access to healthy, and unhealthy, food options may affect a consumer’s health, and the policy debates around how to help low-income consumers eat healthier diets.
Has Corporate Concentration Undermined a Fair Marketplace?
Excessive corporate concentration erodes a competitive, pro-consumer marketplace. Antitrust laws and their enforcement help to check monopolistic business practices. Have we reached a state of excessive corporate concentration? Are antitrust laws adequate? Have these laws been adequately enforced?
Autonomous Vehicles: Are They Road Worthy or Road Hazards?
Competition between the car companies and technology firms make it sound like AVs are just around the corner. But are they ready for the road? Many cities are allowing on the road testing, Congress tried to put them on the road with little testing, and the Secretary of Transportation is not developing standards. There’s no question that AVs are on the way, but how will they be tested for safety, who will absorb the liability for performance, what standards will they have to meet, will short term death and injury be a necessary step for long term safety, and who will have access to the massive amounts of data that they collect? This session will examine what is likely to be the most transformative consumer product of the next decade.
Special Consumer Agency Meeting
This meeting, on May 8th from 12:30 to 5:00, is only open to people from government agencies that have a consumer protection function. It will be held at the conference hotel and will include speakers on robocalls, solar sales, identity theft, and fraud against older consumers, as well as a roundtable exchange of information among participants. Lunch will be provided. Please check the box on the registration page if you wish to attend this meeting. For questions about this meeting, please contact Susan Grant, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions? Please contact Anna Marie Lowery, Director of Meetings and Events.
Each year, Consumer Federation of America’s Consumer Assembly serves as the consumer movement’s principal meeting where issues are debated and new initiatives are presented.
In addition to an array of the nation’s leading public policy leaders from Congress, government agencies, industry, and advocacy communities, the conference will provide a thoughtful examination of the nation’s most pressing consumer issues.
Among the keynote addresses, panels, and breakout sessions, we will explore the latest challenges being faced by consumers and focus on the impact of the widening economic gap in the areas of financial services, food, climate change, technology, product pricing and reviews, monopolies and the free marketplace, artificial intelligence, fact checking, identity theft, and how the 116th Congress will respond.
Since Consumer Assembly’s inception in 1967, thousands of consumers have participated in this annual conference, which provides one of the best opportunities to shape public policy through informed dialogue on the nation’s pressing consumer issues.
Join us for the 2019 Consumer Assembly to hear from consumer, corporate, government, and other decision makers, ask questions, share comments, and make new contacts. You will leave with the insights, information, and tools needed to understand and respond to the very important challenges facing consumers in America.
Continue to check back here for updated information on dates, agenda and more.
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