Firefighters For SOPA (Again): The Congressional Fire Services Institute Rehashes Cliches And Debunked Anecdotes

from the jobs-safety-foreigners-REPEAT dept

Another pro-SOPA/PROTECT-IP op-ed detailing the horrors wrought by "rogue sites" has appeared at The Hill. This time, it's William Jenaway of the Congressional Fire Services Institute decrying the ready availability of counterfeits goods and the risk to "public safety" these items pose.

It opens with the usual "the internet is wonderful but mostly it's a den of thieves" rhetorical device before wading into the shallowest waters of the overused "appeal to patriotism" argument, stating that "Foreign-owned, rogue websites are increasingly selling counterfeit products to U.S. consumers," reminding us yet again that xenophobia and lousy legislation still go hand-in-hand far too frequently.

Then there's this touching display of concern (feel free to throw quotes around touching, display, concern or all three):
The economic impact of these counterfeit products is only one part of the problem. Many of these products are of poor design and quality and cannot perform basic safety functions. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement estimate 15% of seized counterfeit goods pose a direct risk to public safety.
Our pro-SOPA representatives are just worried about the consumers. By properly censoring the internet, we can ensure that Americans will only be harmed by faulty, genuine products, possibly made by Americans themselves. Jenaway then goes on to bring us a real life example of how counterfeit goods have harmed decent, hardworking Americans:
Counterfeit goods can pose a very real threat to the public and to the firefighters who protect our communities. Here in Atlanta, more than 18,000 counterfeit smoke detectors were recalled after they were distributed in high-risk, low-income communities earlier this year.
This again?

If you'll recall, back in November, Mike published a post taking the International Association of Firefighters to task for sending a letter in support of PROTECT-IP and the (now renamed) E-PARASITE Act. This particular anecdote surfaced in the comment thread as Exhibit A in defense of these acts. After all, knockoff smoke detectors are dangerous and blocking rogue sites would ensure these fakes wouldn't end up in consumers' hands, while also "explaining" why firefighters were concerned with taking pirate sites offline.

But as Josh in Charlotte pointed out, this story has nothing to do with rogue sites, censorship or consumer protection. This was a government agency screwing things up on its own and distributing counterfeit goods to its citizens:
About 18,500 counterfeit photoelectric smoke alarms were distributed for free in the Atlanta area between 2006 through May 2011 as part of the Atlanta Smoke Alarm Program.

And this has exactly what to do with censoring internet websites?

http://www.huliq.com/10473/fbi-investigating-detectors-distributed-atlanta-smoke-alarm- program
"More than 18,000 of the apparently uncertified units were purchased in 2005 and 2006 from a company in California."

http://news.consumerreports.org/home/2011/05/atlanta-recalls-counterfeit-smoke-alarm s.html
"The problem dates back five years to when the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department bought the alarms from a vendor in Calabasas, California."
"While the Atlanta firemen work to replace the alarms, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the vendor, Silver Sails Corp. The City of Atlanta is "currently examining all available legal options" to recover the $100,000 spent on the counterfeit alarms, according to the fire department."

http://www.made-in-china.com/traderoom/silversails
"We are an industrial supplier to local, state and federal agencies..."

http://www.atlantaga.gov/media/nr_afrdrecall_051211.aspx
"Purchase History:
Bids were submitted to AFRD, according to City of Atlanta Department of Procurement policies and procedures, with specifications for the detector purchase to include: new ionization type; Federal and State of Georgia Occupational Safety and Health Act compliancy; UL compliancy; continuous alarm duration; alarm sound level of 85 dB@ 10 feet; low battery indicator; hush button; test button; twist off mounting bracket; and long life 10 year lithium battery
Three bids were submitted from the following vendors: Englewood Electrical Supply (June 7, 2005), Silver Sails Inc. (June 7, 2005), and Cintas (July 8, 2005)
July 29, 2005- Silver Sails Inc. was awarded the procurement bid (8337-BA)"

You can't even play the "sold on a rogue site" card on this one. A government program got duped into buying them and distributed to people.
Oh, so the same government who can't even source legitimate goods on its own is now going to be allowed to decide which sites are valid and which sites are "rogue?" And it's going to be assisted by a variety of self-interested corporations? Sounds almost like the fever dream of turn-of-the-century robber barons rather than a 21st-century piece of legislation. Jenaway's not done, though, making one last mention of "protecting" consumers.
It is imperative that Congress address this growing danger with safeguards that support commerce and innovation, while protecting American consumers, our communities, and the first responders who keep us safe. These bills do just that.

Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) and Senator Patrick Leahy (VT) should be applauded for introducing these important bills. Congress should act quickly to pass comprehensive legislation protecting consumers from dangerous, counterfeit goods.
Whatever. This is lazy conflation designed to stoke the fires of protectionism under the guise of "public safety." If it's just "dangerous" fakes we're worried about, why spend the time and energy shutting down sites selling counterfeit jerseys and handbags? If it's the health and well-being of Americans we're so "concerned" with, why are we even bothering with blocking so-called "pirate" sites? Did someone pass out and lapse into a coma brought on by over-torrenting? Did someone get hospitalized for "DVD burns?"

This rhetoric is repeated over and over by SOPA's supporters, taking on a mantra-like tone: JOBS SAFETY JOBS SAFETY, occasionally interrupted by promises to take it out on the "foreigners" who are "endangering" Americans when not "stealing their jobs." They certainly have the fattened wallets and corrupted power to shove this bill through, but they're severely short on justification.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2012 @ 2:10pm

    I'm curious, what will SOPA/PIPA do to eliminate counterfeit politicians? You know, the guys on the corporate payroll who pose as legitimate congressmen representing their constituents. There are real safety concerns here with all the riot gear being brought out and such. Think of the children!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Someantimalwareguy (profile), Jan 11th, 2012 @ 2:17pm

    Obligatory SouthPark video...

    ...This rhetoric is repeated over and over by SOPA's supporters, taking on a mantra-like tone: JOBS SAFETY JOBS SAFETY, occasionally interrupted by promises to take it out on the "foreigners" who are "endangering" Americans when not "stealing their jobs."...


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=768h3Tz4Qik

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Gwiz (profile), Jan 11th, 2012 @ 2:26pm

    From the linked article:

    The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement estimate 15% of seized counterfeit goods pose a direct risk to public safety.

    These items include counterfeit cigarettes, manufacturing goods, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment. In many cases, Consumer Product Safety Commission has had to issue warnings for counterfeit batteries, circuit breakers, and semiconductors as a result.


    I wonder what percentage of American made (or imported legally by an American company) products are substandard and have to have warnings issued and how it compares to that 15% figure.

    And on a side note: WTF is a counterfeit cigarette? If it's tobacco wrapped in a rolling paper than it's a cigarette. Period. I wouldn't think cigarettes have to pass FDA inspection or whatever since they are inherently unhealthy to begin with. Are they talking about "medical" cigarettes or something?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2012 @ 2:26pm

    "Did someone get hospitalized for "DVD burns?""
    I touched a DVD right after a burn once. I never did regrow my finger nails...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    anonymous, Jan 11th, 2012 @ 2:31pm

    seems to me that the wrong things are being fought against/stopped here. Jenaway should lose his job for using such a distorted pack of years old lies, whoever decided which company would supply the faulty smoke alarms should lose their job and someone from the Atlanta Fire Dept that knows what the hell he's talking about/looking for should have gotten the task of finding the correct smoke detectors. all in all, we dont need to shut down websites, foreign or domestic, to do that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Violated (profile), Jan 11th, 2012 @ 2:44pm

    Liars

    I get tired of hearing that one. It is always either "protect the children" or in the name of "public safety".

    Most people spot the problem when they buy some paracetamol in Canada only to hear when the get back that these drugs are a public health risk and not being FDA approved makes them potentially dangerous. We must ban such imports to save lives etc.

    I have always found one good rule of thumb is that Governments and Health Care systems in general don't aim to fool or poison their population. So when you buy FDA-unapproved Paracetamol you can be very certain that this will indeed cure your headache.

    I would go on to say that people putting out false scare stories should be a crime with suitable punishment. It is after all rubbish like this that makes it much harder for people to spot real problems... like former baby milk from China.

    I will give up on that idea when they would never make general lying a crime. We can at least identify such "scum" who use such lies to try and fool the public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Isakill, Jan 11th, 2012 @ 2:49pm

    contact?

    William Jenaway
    wjenaway@vfis.com

    Jim Estep Vice President:
    jestepp@bizroundtable.org

    Let's tell them how wrong they are.

    Considering their credentials they seem to be intelligent people. But looks can be deceiving.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Violated (profile), Jan 11th, 2012 @ 2:53pm

    Re:

    Cigarettes are a major source of tax revenue. Counterfeit would basically cover anything the Government does not get its full share of taxes from.

    Still if you ask them they are sure to quote old newspapers, mouse droppings and the common added weed killer. I am sure the foreign manufacturer would deny that ingredients list.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), Jan 11th, 2012 @ 3:14pm

    Re:

    Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) and Senator Patrick Leahy (VT) are two fine examples of scumbags in Washington

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2012 @ 3:35pm

    Re: Re:

    I still want my 'report a senator' button....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Kal Zekdor (profile), Jan 11th, 2012 @ 4:19pm

    Re: contact?

    Half of politicians are ignorant idiots, and half of them are intentionally corrupt. (There is some overlap.) Just because they seem intelligent doesn't mean that they care for anything other than lining their own pockets.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Hans, Jan 11th, 2012 @ 8:07pm

    But... what about the firefighters!

    "Here in Atlanta, more than 18,000 counterfeit smoke detectors were recalled after they were distributed in high-risk, low-income communities earlier this year."

    OMG, the firefighters were hurt by counterfeit smoke detectors? But... what about the firefighters?

    Thanks Tim, nice job on the analysis.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Dr. Evil, Jan 11th, 2012 @ 9:12pm

    Seizing up

    The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement estimate 15% of seized counterfeit goods pose a direct risk to public safety


    two things: 1) seized goods pose NO risk to public safety, they were seized. 2) 85% did not pose a risk to public safety. Chinese quality must be getting better!

    you may continue now...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2012 @ 9:13pm

    Did someone pass out and lapse into a coma brought on by over-torrenting?

    I know a guy who knows a guy who once did 20 cc's of cyberlocker and six lines of bittorrent in the same night. He spent three months in the hospital, and was never really the same afterward.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    tsavory (profile), Jan 12th, 2012 @ 1:14am

    needed a big check

    Apparently somebody needed some extra cash and had to buy cheap uncertified units. I see a few problems with this whole thing.
    1 Why the heck is the depart not researching who they buy their products from?
    2 When the AFD received the smoke alarms Why did they not test some of them? I mean come on is it not good business to test a certain percent of bulk buys?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 6:05am

    Re:

    "The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement estimate 15% of seized counterfeit goods pose a direct risk to public safety."

    And more laws are needed why? Seems to be enough in place already - since they are doing such a good job and all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 6:07am

    Re: But... what about the firefighters!

    If it is counterfeit, how can it be a recall?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 12th, 2012 @ 6:49am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I want an app for my TV that recognizes politicians and replaces what they are saying with ren and stimpy sound bites. It would be far more useful than what they are actually saying.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 12th, 2012 @ 6:54am

    Re: Re:

    The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement estimate 15% of seized counterfeit goods pose a direct risk to public safety.

    After that Dolly Parton front row, 30 dead, counterfeit bra breaking incident. I would think most people would be for greater enforcement and re-enforcement.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 8:32am

    Counterfeit what?

    Maybe the issue that we /should/ be considering is the ready availability of counterfeit congressmen and the risk to public safety that such items pose.

    And how will SOPA et al. protect us from such counterfeits?

    And what function /does/ the Congressional Fire Services Institute actually perform? Is it the assigned responsibility of its members to run madly about extinguishing flaming Congressmen who have become so inflamed by their own rhetoric that they've spontaneously combusted?

    Inquiring minds want to know...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    sangemaru (profile), Jan 19th, 2012 @ 2:11am

    The whole law system is a joke and a system of extortion

    The entire government/law/corporate system is a sham. Those who want to understand how and why, and to realize all the false premises they've been duped with, should read this in full:
    http://www.freedomfiles.org/extortion.pdf

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This