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Product Safety vs. Privacy

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David Horowitz authors the very popular Fight Back! website. As a consumer advocate we have something in common. He writes for the Costco Connection, a magazine that is sent to Costco members. Most of the time, his one page article is the highlight of the magazine. July's issue is no different.

The typical article is divided into three points that consumers should know right away. Two of this months articles are about medical warnings and changes that don't fit the scope of what I write about. The other one, product recalls, is something that struck me as interesting. First, I'll have to paraphrase the problem that Horowitz brings to light.

What Happens When a Product is Recalled

It's pretty straight forward for products on the shelf... the store takes them off the shelf. What about the products that are already purchased? It's hard to get a hold of consumers to let them know that they dangerous product. A new bill aims to fix that. A manufacturer of children's products would have to keep track of consumer's who purchased their products in case they are recalled.

What About Privacy?

Is losing our privacy the price we pay for safety? I might not care too much about the privacy when I buy a children's product, but I could see this leaking into other areas that might be concerned about. Do I want companies to have a record of everything I purchase? I suppose that if I use a credit card, they probably already have that record. I still like the option of using cash and being anonymous.

Is there a good solution that protects privacy? I suppose that we could go to Recalls.Gov and look up our products every now and again, but who would really keep up with that. Maybe someone could set up a master database and one could enter the products they own. They'd give an e-mail they use and when something comes up the consumer would be e-mailed. I'd feel more anonymous if I could use my e-mail as an alias. I don't mind that they contact [email protected] (not a real e-mail address that I know of).

What do you think? Are you concerned about your privacy for all the products you buy or does safety trump it? Can you have your cake (safety) and eat it too (privacy)?

Last updated on July 5, 2008.

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2 Responses to “Product Safety vs. Privacy”

  1. Brandon says:

    Isn’t this what product registrations are for?

    If I buy a product and I’m concerned about hearing about warranty and recalls for it. I fill out the postcard, the manufacturer gets my information and knows how to contact me. There’s no reason for the government to have to mandate that I give a company my personal information in order to ‘protect me’, ‘just in case’ something goes wrong.

    I’m an adult and can make my own decisions about whether privacy or saftey are more imporant to me on a case-by-case basis, thankyouverymuch.

  2. Lazy Man says:

    Some might argue that product registrations just get you added to junk mailing lists.

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