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Misuse(s) of the Information Quality Act


My colleague and friend Derek Bambauer, Fellow at the Berkman Center, was kind enough to send me a link to an interesting article in the Boston Globe on the strategic (mis-)use of the U.S. Data Quality Act by the industry. According to the Globe, the Data Quality Act has become a ”device that defenders of industry have increasingly relied upon to attack all range of scientific studies whose results or implications they disagree with, from government global warming reports to cancer research using animal subjects. …. [A]s interpreted by the Bush administration, it creates an unprecedented and cumbersome process that saddles agencies with a new workload while empowering businesses to challenge not just government regulations–something they could do anyway–but scientific information that could potentially lead to regulation somewhere down the road.”

The Globe draws our attention to lawsuit before the federal appeals court in Virginia brought by the US Chamber of Commerce and the Salt Institute. The suit challenges a National Institutes of Health study showing that reduced salt intake lowers blood pressure. The court is expected to decide “whether companies can sue agencies that reject their ‘data quality’ complaints, thereby dragging individual studies into the courtroom …. If the judge in the case writes a precedent-setting opinion, and if higher courts agree, a brand-new body of law could emerge, consisting largely of corporate lawsuits against scientific analyses.”

I analyzed the Data Quality Act from an information law perspective soon after its enactment and also mentioned potential misuse scenarios. The paper is available here and might be worth a skim reading.

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