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Section 6(b) Information Disclosure

Section 6(b) Information Disclosure Hero


Section 6 restricts CPSC’s public disclosure of manufacturer and product-specific information. On April 1, 2019, CPSC learned that such information had been released through the Information Clearinghouse to the public without following the procedures required by the law. Upon learning of this unauthorized disclosure, CPSC staff immediately halted the transmission of data from the Information Clearinghouse and required all such requests to be routed through the FOIA Office instead. This new process provides a two-step verification before publicly disclosing manufacturer and product-specific information.

CPSC staff also evaluated whether other instances of unauthorized disclosure had occurred. Based on this review, CPSC staff determined that information on approximately 11,000 unique manufacturers had been improperly disclosed since 2017. CPSC staff immediately notified recipients and asked them to return or destroy the information. Almost all of the recipients have agreed to destroy the information, with only a few not agreeing to comply and a few yet to respond.

CPSC considers unauthorized disclosure of information to be a serious issue. After notifying recipients on April 5 of the unauthorized disclosure, the agency developed a phased action plan intended to provide rapid notification to all affected manufacturers, and more detailed information for all manufacturers who seek it. A description of the Phases follows.

  • Phase One: Over the course of a two-day period, from April 11-12, CPSC sent an initial communication to all identified manufacturers (approximately 11,000) to inform them that an unauthorized disclosure had occurred. This communication provided timely notification to affected manufacturers and allowed CPSC to confirm that the communication was sent to the appropriate entity by requesting that each manufacturer responds to a dedicated CPSC mailbox.
    • Status update: Approximately 11,000 manufacturers received this initial notification as of April 12.
  • Phase Two: Starting on April 15, CPSC began to provide additional information to manufacturers who responded to the initial communication of Phase One, prioritizing communications with those manufacturers whose information was provided to Consumer Reports (CR) given that CR received the largest tranche of information that has not been returned or destroyed. The Phase Two notification informed manufacturers that their information had been disclosed to CR and that the disclosure involved summaries of incident reports and In-Depth Investigations (IDIs). The notice indicated that their information had been disclosed to CR on December 11, 2017, August 10, 2018, or February 6, 2019, and informed the manufacturer that CR declined to return or destroy the information. Finally, because the CPSC had previously provided each manufacturer with the incident reports, investigations, or other documents involving its products, the Phase Two notice provided the manufacturer with document numbers so that the manufacturer could match those numbers with information previously communicated from CPSC.
    • Status update: 1,100 manufacturers who responded to CPSC’s Phase One notice have received Phase Two information as of May 15.
  • Phase Three: For manufacturers with additional questions after receiving the document numbers of the underlying documents, or who were unable to identify the underlying documents in their records, CPSC began Phase Three notifications on May 2. These notifications provide additional information in the form of a spreadsheet that contains all rows of data about a manufacturer that were sent to CR except for four discrete columns of information related to manufacturer name and model. Some incidents involved more than one product or manufacturer. Therefore, CPSC omitted this information to ensure no additional unauthorized disclosures would occur.
    • Status update: 320 manufacturers who requested additional information received Phase Three responses as of May 15.
  • Phases Four and Five: Beginning the week of May 6, CPSC staff initiated follow-up communications with manufacturers whose information was sent to recipients other than CR. These communications will replicate the process in Phases Two and Three and provide the same type of information CPSC provided in those phases. That is, CPSC will provide document numbers related to information CPSC previously provided as well as more detailed spreadsheet information to those who have additional questions.
    • Status update: 1060 manufacturers whose information was sent to recipients other than CR will receive Phase 4 details about unauthorized public disclosure of manufacturer and product-specific information as of May 15.
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