Reputations will be ruined and brands deeply damaged once the Congressionally-mandated internet bulletin board becomes operational. Here's the benign summary of what the law requires, as interpreted by the CPSC in a report to Congress :
To meet the requirement for a public database, CPSC is planning to build SaferProducts.gov (working name only – final still to be determined), which will be a single central location where consumers can go to report product safety incidents, and to search for prior incidents and recalls on products they own, or may be thinking about buying. In conjunction with the web site launch, CPSC will also conduct a public awareness campaign to raise awareness of SaferProducts.gov. Sounds wonderful, right? But how will it operate in reality?
Understand that every "report" received by the CPSC will have to appear on the database, and not just reports of actual injury but also of threat of injury.
And anyone who cares to make the report --activists, plaintiffs' lawyers, busybodies, disgruntled employees etc-- can do so with their anonymity guaranteed. Manufacturers whose products are slandered on this site will be allowed to respond, but the agency has a total of just over 500 employees, and they must oversee the entire process. Anyone care to guess how quickly the agency's resources will be overmatched by a flood of trolls and mud-slingers?
Congress obviously loved the idea of providing "internet tools" to consumers who are upset with any particular product, but the staffers who wrote this piece of legislation must be unfamiliar with how open forums on the internet actually operate. For a taste of the absurdity of comments received in such a place, sample the comments below for the usual trolls who show up to spew and stomp their virtual feet. Amusing stuff for an opinion columnist, but deeply damaging for a business trying to sell product.