Protecting Children and Consumers
Technology and a global marketplace combine as a powerful force for commerce, education and entertainment. Progress and innovation foster consumer choice and affordability, however, basic protections are necessary to help consumers make informed and safe purchases and prevent fraud.
Keeping Kids Safe Online
The Internet is an indispensible educational resource for our families. But the dark side of the technology is the way criminals use it to harm children. Parents are the first line of defense with respect to keeping their children safe online. Law enforcement and technology companies offer an increasing variety of tools to parents who seek to protect their kids—both on their home computer and elsewhere. Learn how you can add another layer of protection, through a free program offered by the State of Utah.
Consumer Product Safety
Increasing global production of many items they buy makes it difficult for consumers to determine safety and efficacy. Congressman Matheson supported the Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which, among other things, sets a limit for total lead content in children’s prodcuts (600 parts per million), mandated testing of children’s products, changed product recall time requirements and established a database of manufacturing facilities that previously failed to meet established safety standards.
Matheson voted—in July 2011—for H.R. 2715, which makes several changes to that original bill. It exempts children’s products sold at thrift stores and charitable organizations from the lead content limits (with the exception of children’s metal jewelry or any product known to contain lead in amounts above the legal limit.) Further, considerations are made for ordinary paper books and metal parts of bicycles to not require third-party testing. The legislation excludes all-terrain and other off-highway vehicles from lead content limits.
Lead Warning Label on Food containers
Congressman Matheson proposed adding a warning label for ceramic dishes and other food containers to alert consumers of possible lead content. His amendment was included in a House-passed version of consumer product safety legislation. Matheson acted when tests by Utah health department labs--requested by a local TV consumer reporter-- showed lead content in dishes that exceeded the federal standard. Medical tests determined that nursing mothers who prepared and ate food using those dishes inadvertently passed lead on to their babies. Families deserve to know about the products they purchase in order to make informed choices about what they use in their homes.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
In 2010, Congress passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This bill created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which has authority over a vast array of financial activities including mortgages, credit cards, loan servicing and other financial service areas. Congressman Matheson supported the legislation. At the same time, he is committed and working to ensure that the CFPB is effective and avoids duplicative functions and over-regulation, while focusing oversight on what is most helpful to both consumers and financial institutions in precarious economic times.
Commerce is increasingly an electronic activity, calling for strong and specific security practices for businesses that store personal information. Congressman Matheson is a cosponsor of the Data Accountability and Trust Act. The bill requires that each person who owns or possesses electronic data beyond a certain threshold establish security policies and procedures to protect personal information. It further requires institutions to notify consumers of security breaches unless there is no risk of identity theft. Matheson also supports the Consumer Protection Privacy Act of 2011 which imposes certain notice and choice requirements with respect to the collection and the use of personal information.
Empowering pet owners to comparison shop for medications
America’s 71 million pet owners deserve to have a choice in where they buy their pets’ medications, as well as the potential to save money on those purchases. Congressman Matheson has introduced the bipartisan Fairness to Pet Owners Act of 2011—H.R. 1406. The bill is modeled after the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act which passed in 2003. Matheson’s bill gives pet owners the right to a copy of their pet’s prescription. Having the written prescription gives consumers the ability to comparison shop. One study of 18 common pet medications found that on average consumers who purchase from prescribers pay a 248% markup over average wholesale prices. The measure only applies to companion animals, not to farm animals or livestock.