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U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee holds Hearing on Automobile Loans and Insurance Industries

On May 1, 2019 Chairman Al Green (D-TX), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, convened a hearing entitled, “Examining Discrimination in the Automobile Loan and Insurance Industries.” In a memorandum to the subcommittee, the Financial Services Committee Majority Staff provided background information on the issue, stating, “auto loan debt is the third largest category of household debt, after mortgages and student loans. Nearly all American households own at least one vehicle, and most Americans must borrow money in order to purchase a car. Auto borrowing varies by income, age, and state.” As vehicles are becoming increasingly sophisticated, it makes sense that their price tag would reflect those technological advancements. A monetary increase of any product has the propensity to impact any American family; research unveiled in the memorandum highlights that non-white borrowers were charged significantly more than white consumers. The memorandum also noted that due to a lack of data collection of discriminatory practices in auto finance, it is difficult to make any significant progress in abetting the issue. Opening statements from Committee Members highlight that it is unacceptable that there is discrimination in this industry.

Witnesses:

  • John W. Van Alst, Attorney, National Consumer Law Center; Director, Working Cars for Working Families, and NCLC project
  • Rachel J. Cross, Policy Analyst, Frontier Group
  • Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • Joshua Rivera, Policy Advisor, University of Michigan, Poverty Solutions
  • James Lynch, Chief Actuary, Vice President of Research and Education, Insurance Information Institute

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

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U.S. Senate Holds Hearing on Consumer Perspectives and Data Privacy

On May 1, 2019 at 10:00 am, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation will hold a hearing titled, “Consumer Perspectives: Policy Principles for a Federal Data Privacy Framework.” The hearing will examine “consumers’ expectation for data privacy in the Digital Age and how those expectations may vary based on the type of information collected and processed by businesses.” This hearing follows numerous hearings, that have been held in both chambers over the last few years, covering data access, consumer privacy, and the consideration of a federal data privacy policy. Members of Congress have questioned high profile tech companies in an effort to learn how data is currently being used and collected, and how to best form a comprehensive policy that protects the interests and privacy of their constituents.

Witnesses:

  • Helen Dixon, Data Protection Commissioner, Republic of Ireland
  • Neema Sign Guliani, Senior Legislative Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union
  • Jules Polonetsky, Chief Executive Officer, Future of Privacy Forum
  • Jim Steyer, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Common Sense Media

To view the hearing, click here.

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Federal Trade Commission Hosts Workshop on Repair Restrictions

Shops Have Opportunity to Submit Related Comments to FTC

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a federal agency that aims to protect consumers and “competition by preventing anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business practices through law enforcement, advocacy, and education without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.” On July 16, 2019 at 9:00 am, the FTC will be hosting a workshop titled “Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions,” specifically examining how manufacturers may limit third-party repairs and if those limitations impact consumer protection.

The FTC has reached out to industry groups and requested that repairers assist their efforts to determine issues relative to manufacturer restrictions on repair shops.

Currently, FTC staff is asking for empirical research and data in response to the following questions:

  • The prevalence of the certain types of repair restrictions
  • The effect of repair restrictions on the repair market in the United States, and the impact that manufacturers’ repair restrictions have on small and local businesses
  • The effect repair restrictions have on prices for repairing goods, accessibility and timeliness of repairs, and the quality of repairs
  • The effect of repair restrictions on consumers’ ability to repair warrantied products or to have the products repaired by independent repair shops
  • The relationship between repair restrictions and the sale of extended warranties by manufacturers
  • Manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions and the factual basis for such justifications
  • The risks posed by repairs made by consumers or independent repair shops
  • The liability faced by manufacturers when consumers or independent repair workers are injured while repairing a product
  • The liability faced by manufacturers when consumers are injured after using or coming into contact with a product that has been repaired improperly by a consumer or independent repair shop
  • Whether consumers understand the existence and the effects of repair restrictions

The deadline to submit information is April 30, 2019. Information on how to submit research and a presentation can be found here.

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