Ed's Blog

US, European Consumer Groups Holding Public Events In DC This Week

By Ed Mierzwinski
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

The PIRG-backed TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue (tacd.org) -- a forum to ensure that trade policies serve consumers -- holds its 17th Annual Meeting in Washington on Tuesday 21 March. The public main event is titled: "A consumer agenda for transatlantic markets: safeguarding protections and making progress in times of political change."  A detailed agenda is available.

On Wednesday, the group sponsors two public side events: (1) Consumer Health, Consumer Action and Antimicrobial Resistance and (2) Empowering and Protecting Youth in the Big Data Era.

The TACD was formed in 1998 with ongoing support from the European Commission, which wanted to ensure that consumer voices were not drowned out by the increasing, intense lobbying efforts of the U.S. and European Chambers of Commerce and their member companies. While the new US administration has signaled a change in trade negotiations, the need for consumer participation has never been greater.

Among the speakers at the Tuesday event at the Pew Trusts are Monique Goyens, director-general of the European Consumer Organization (BEUC); Rohit Chopra of the Consumer Federation of America (formerly Student Ombudsman of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)); Francisco Fonseca Morillo, Deputy Director General, Directorate General for Justice, the European Commission; and, Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen.

Also speaking is Finn Myrstad of the Norwegian Consumer Council, who recently presented at South By Southwest (SXSW) on his research on how a child's doll, Cayla, could spy on families through its flawed Internet connection (Finn's BEUC blog). Here is his Norwegian Consumer Council Youtube video. U.S. consumer and privacy groups believe that the toy violates a U.S. children's privacy law championed by then Representative, now Senator, Ed Markey (MA) (his letter to toymakers).

Other panelists representing civil society, academics, researchers and business on both sides of the Atlantic will join to discuss a pro-consumer agenda for transatlantic markets. The meeting will focus on safeguarding consumer protections and making progress into the future, emphasizing regulatory and enforcement agencies’ necessary cooperation in a global world on issues ranging from financial reform to product safety.

The Wednesday side meetings will focus on dangers to public health posed by excessive use of antibiotics in the food supply and on children's privacy issues (including Cayla) in the Big Data world. More information about each event is available in the links above.

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