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Viewpoint: General Motor's recent safety lapse

This page highlights efforts by Consumers Union to improve the marketplace

Published: August 2014
Photo: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Gett

The issue: In 2014, GM has recalled about 29 million vehicles. That’s more than it sold ­worldwide between 2011 and 2013. Some recalls involved ignition switches that were found to be defective years ago but weren’t fixed, and have since been linked to at least 13 deaths.

Our take: New rules are ­severely needed to prevent such a debacle from happening again. To start, Consumers Union is urging Congress to pass a set of pending bills that would increase penalties for automakers that violate safety standards and allow greater oversight by federal safety regulators.

Separately, GM must make good on its promises to clean up its act. The company has established a fund to compensate families whose loved ones were killed or seriously injured as a result of the faulty ignitions. We’ll be watching closely to ensure that the families are treated fairly.

A crackdown on data breaches

Businesses in the Sunshine State have been put on notice. On July 1, the Florida Information Protection Act became official, giving the state one of the toughest data privacy laws in the nation. It requires businesses to protect all of their consumers’ sensitive digital information and to shorten the time line for notifying regulators of a breach. Interestingly, Florida lawmakers defined  “breach” as unauthorized access to personal information, regardless of whether an actual theft of data occurs. Consumers Union is pushing for a strong federal standard to protect all consumers.


That’s the number of premature deaths that can be avoided annually if the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan is approved. The proposed guidelines would drastically reduce carbon and other pollution from the nation’s existing power plants by 2030. The EPA’s plan, which Consumers Union is supporting, would also prevent up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children each year, with a total health and climate benefit worth up to an estimated $93 billion in 2030. Check for updates.

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Editor's Note:

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

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