ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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ISO COPOLCO Annual Meeting in Geneva Focuses on International Consumer Safety Standardization for Services

ANSI Representatives Join Global Experts for Discussion of Common Priorities


In June, representatives of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Consumer Interest Forum (CIF) attended the annual meeting of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Committee on Consumer Policy (COPOLCO) in Geneva to discuss the theme of global services and its impact on consumers. The event united global representatives from Trinidad and Tobago, Malaysia, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Lithuania, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, Fiji, South Africa, Italy, Cyprus, Namibia, Australia, Sweden, Canada, Greece, and most of Northern Europe.

Although “services” is a broad term, COPOLCO narrowed the discussion to services related to automobiles, real estate, online shopping, retail purchases, tourism, public services, financial, health care, and housing. Representatives included Sally Greenberg, CIF vice chair, and R. David Pittle, Ph.D., former CIF chair, who met with other international consumer standards experts and advocates who are members of COPOLCO. Steven Cornish, ANSI senior director of international policy, and Michael Boyles, an expert from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), also attended.

During a moderated open discussion, 10 relevant concerns that warrant attention were identified: privacy, reliability, complaints, fairness, price, timeliness, convenience, safety, disclosure, and quality. The group exchanged insights on how to take on the considerable challenges of setting standards in all of these service sectors in relation to these specific consumer concerns.

Attendees also heard from COPOLCO’s Product Safety Working Group on developing standards to address choking hazards for children.

The Product Safety Working Group is also addressing standards for top-loading washing machines, ride-on toys, and washing detergent pods, which are colorful and pose the risk of small children ingesting them. Additional product safety issues being considered by COPOLCO are accident investigation, safe sleeping conditions, arts and crafts materials, trampoline parks, chemical safety, and table saws. At the annual meeting, it was agreed upon that the following areas would be new candidates for standards development in COPOLCO: instructions for use; sustainable cocoa; e-cigarettes; and 3-D printing.

The COPOLCO delegates had a robust discussion on whether the sharing economy – e.g., ride sharing (vehicles) and shared housing – should be a focus of international standardization. Stakeholders noted that this is a burgeoning area that is in need of stronger consumer protections.

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