Blog Posts By:

Ed Mierzwinski,
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

Yesterday the Senate Commerce Committee held an oversight hearing on strengthening the FTC's tools to protect consumers. Today it held a confirmation hearing for President Biden's nominee to the FTC, Professor Lina Khan. U.S. PIRG supports both. (Photo of sculptor "Michael Lantz's Man Controlling Trade" (outside the FTC) by Steve Fernie, Some Rights Reserved.)

In late 2020, state and federal consumer cops filed several enforcement actions against the powerful Big Tech platforms Google and Facebook over practices alleged to violate antitrust and competition laws.  What is notable about these efforts is the degree of bipartisanship and collaboration involved. Ideally, Congress will find a way to follow the bipartisan lead of the state consumer cops and make its continued investigations and actions against the Big Tech firms that now dominate the economy more effective.

Maryland Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has had a long history of fighting to protect consumers’ rights, and is pleased to offer testimony in support of the timely Maryland Consumer Reporting Act, HB0642.

In January, the Norwegian Data Protection Authority fined the dating app Grindr over $11 million for violating its users' privacy. In January 2020, U.S. PIRG and others had asked the FTC to investigate Grindr and other dating and health apps, but the agency has not taken action. In other news: January 2021, our coalition also asked the FTC to investigate the alleged difficulty of cancelling an Amazon Prime membership. Oh, and we've also urged Senate leaders not to give BigTech lobbyists any senior antitrust jobs!

President-elect Biden's platform includes a proposal to replace the private credit bureaus with a public credit registry. Here's why it's a worthy idea.

Today, on the 55th anniversary of Ralph Nader's landmark "Unsafe at Any Speed," about the built-in dangers of 1960s cars, as exemplified by the General Motors Corvair, his colleagues led by Joan Claybrook have published a new report: "Safer Vehicles and Highways: 4.2 million U.S. Lives Spared Since 1966." The report makes recommendations to President-elect Joe Biden about how to revitalize and strengthen the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which Claybrook ran during the Jimmy Carter administration.

Polls show voters, across party lines, want both a strong CFPB and strong Wall Street, payday lender and debt collector oversight. Will the next Congress listen to them and undo this Administration's myriad rollbacks of consumer and investor financial protections?

Congress must reject demands from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to use the pandemic as cover to achieve one of their long-standing goals: making it nearly impossible for workers and consumers to hold companies accountable when they fail to use reasonable care to keep their operations safe. When America does return to work consumers and workers must have peace of mind that businesses are taking reasonable steps to protect them. The bottom line is that when nobody is accountable, nobody is safe. Congress must enact an additional Covid relief package to help struggling consumers, but shouldn't include the Chamber's corporate lawsuit immunity demand, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) continues to include in his latest proposed pandemic package.

Our latest report, last week, found July set yet a fifth consecutive month of record consumer complaints to the CFPB. Complaints about credit report mistakes, always among the leaders, have surged dramatically during the pandemic. The CFPB hasn't done anything about it, but Congress has an opportunity in its next relief package to ban negative credit reporting.

On Monday, the U.S. House approved H.R. 5332, the Protecting Your Credit Score Act of 2020 (Gottheimer-NJ). U.S. PIRG joined other leading advocates of credit reporting reform in a support letter to the House last week. The bill takes a number of steps to make it easier to fix credit reporting errors.