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This page highlights efforts of Consumers Union to improve the marketplace

Published: March 2014

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Cosmetic caution

A new database, at, can help you uncover shampoos, sunscreens, and other products that contain ingredients known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm. The program is run by the California Department of Public Health. Thanks to a 2005 law, manufacturers must report any such cosmetic product sold within the state. Although the law doesn’t prohibit their sale, California makes the information publicly available so that shoppers can make informed choices.

Winner's circle: Consumer Reports honors watchdog group

The Kentucky Equal Justice Center was named the recipient of the Consumer Reports Excellence in Consumer Advocacy Award at a January ceremony. Founded in 1976, the group has worked tirelessly to represent the interests of low-income residents of Kentucky, earning important reforms and improving lives. The group played an important role in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Kentucky—the state has been touted for operating one of the most effective health-insurance exchanges and has provided coverage to more than 122,000 low-income residents through expansion of its Medicaid program. The award, which comes with a $25,000 cash prize, is given to small, nonprofit organizations that positively affect consumers through advocacy or direct actions in the marketplace.

Where we stand: Net neutrality

The issue: Earlier this year, a U.S. Court of  Appeals overturned major elements of the Federal Communications Commission’s “Open Internet” rules. The regulations had been designed to ensure that Internet service providers treat all content and sites equally.

Our take The court’s decision leaves consumers at the mercy of a handful of providers that can now give preferential treatment to, for example, the online sites they profit from.

Consumers Union has long supported Net neutrality because industry tactics shouldn’t be allowed to slow access to your favorite sites while allowing free-flowing visits to others.

The ball is back in the FCC’s court. The agency recently announced plans for restoring consumer protections, and we hope they move quickly. Turn to page 24 for more on this topic.

Taking action: Your plastic should be more secure!

In the wake of several high-profile breaches of credit- and debit-card data from national retailers, Consumers Union is calling on lawmakers and businesses to provide stronger protections for your financial information. In February, we testified at a Senate hearing in support of a new federal standard that tackles the problem.

The payment cards used by most Americans are surprisingly vulnerable to fraud. Other countries have switched to cards with  “chip and pin” technology that store and transmit encrypted data, often requiring you to authorize transactions. Although some U.S. financial institutions have pledged to make the transition within the next few years, we need a stronger commitment from all stakeholders. A federal standard must be established to hold companies accountable for safeguarding your payments. To get involved, go to

Editor's Note:

This article also appeared in the May 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

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