Toy industry wants to put kibosh consumer database


The toy industry is pushing to weaken the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in part by defunding a new database scheduled to launch next month that would allow consumers to go online and report an incident with a product they think is unsafe, reports the New York Times.

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R., Kansas, attached an amendment (H.Amdt.159) to the House appropriations bill last week that would prohibit any funds be used for the database.

“I’m an engineer. I love data. But I know what people put online…I think this is a plaintiff’s bar dream," Pompeo said at a hearing last week, according to the Times.

Toy industry trade groups such as the Toy Industry Association and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association are among the groups working to defang the database, as well as to weaken new regulations that would require third-party testing of toys to determine their safety and if they are contaminated with lead. Rick Locker, an attorney mentioned in the Times report as representing toy manufacturers and in other news accounts as a lobbyist, is not formally registered as one. (A call to Locker was not returned at the time of this posting.)

Industry groups say these new rules are too broad and would cover such toys as bicycles, which do not pose the danger to children that small toys do, which they might swallow. Democrats on the Commission say some revisions to rules may be necessary, but that they are fundamentally sound.

The new database, which was mandated in the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Commission Act (CPSC), has been controversial from the start. In 2009, Sunlight wrote about how the database was being delayed because of funding issues. Congress included the database among a number of strengthening changes to the agency after a long list of popular toys made in China–from Big Birds and Elmos to Thomas the Tank Engines–were recalled because of lead contamination.