Standards and Certification: Proposed Rule and Staff Report
United States. Federal Trade Commission. Bureau of Consumer Protection. Division of Product Reliability, John Mooney
Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 1978 - Standardization - 572 pages
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IN 1978 FTC proposed rule to open the process of standards development for building materials, auto safety, and other important areas of commerce.The FTC also proposed to restrict the amount of advertising of sugar-containing products on TV programs for children. At the time, the standards were developed by NGOs (e.g., building code officials' associations such as ICBO, whose members were building inspectors, or NFPA heavily supported by the fire insurance indusstry). This was a case of the cops making the rules they would later enforce. This was all done without public access to agendas or, in the case of building codes, the ability to submit information for consideration. The proposed rule would have required open meetings, public access to agendas and meetings, etc.
One of the controversies of the day was the possible inclusion of plastic piping for plumbing systems. The potential use of plastic pipe threatened the copper and steel, industries as well as the plumbers' union. According to testimony in the report, building officials' expenses to attend the meetings were often paid by parties at interest who also paid for "extras" (e.g., female escorts) during the trips and meetings.
The building industry lobbyists prevailed on Congress to prevent the rule from being adopted and established some measures intended to address the shortcomings. Congress also prevented the adoption of the so-called "Kids' Vid" rule to limit the amount of advertising of sugar-containing products on television.
The Commission collected over 90,000 pages of testimony prior to the Congressional action preventing adoption of the rule. Some reforms were adopted but essentially the writing of building codes occurs largely without representation of public interest or public health interests.