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.
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.
Congress is currently considering two pieces of legislation that will provide law enforcement with the tools to cut off foreign rogue sites from the U.S. market and American consumers. H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act, and S. 968 the PROTECT IP Act, will give DOJ the authority to file a civil action against the owners of a foreign registered website that sells counterfeit goods.
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.
William F. Jenaway, is president of the Board of Directors of the Congressional Fire Services Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy institute supporting the nation's fire and emergency services.