- June 11 - Last night Senators voted to reject two key amendments to allow consumers
and small businesses to hold accountable manufacturers whose products malfunction
on January 1, 2000.
One, presented by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), would have
assured consumers who bought a defective computer after January 1, 1995 that the
manufacturer would fix the problem, if it could, at no charge, or at cost if the
computer was bought before January 1, 1995.
"The 66 to 32 vote to kill the Boxer amendment shows that
the full-court press mounted by the Chamber of Commerce, the high-tech industry
and other wealthy interests on this bill is paying off, and at the expense of
consumers and small businesses," said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook.
The other, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), would have
excluded consumers from the harmful legal limitations of the bill but failed by
65 votes to 32. The Senate's rejection of these amendments shows that S.
96 has nothing for consumers but is simply a giveaway to special interest
lobbyists. The bill continues to:
Hurt small businesses and individuals that suffer the ill effects
of Y2K failures. Every provision continues to make it more difficult for consumers
and small businesses who suffer losses from Y2K failures to be compensated.
Provide a disincentive to Y2K remediation now. It continues
to send the wrong signal to those who sold non-compliant Y2K products: Congress
will shield them from full liability for Y2K failures, so they dont need
to worry about making their best efforts to prevent Y2K failures.
Not require that a single defective computer chip or software
program be fixed. While the bill delays consumer actions to recover losses for
90 days, nothing in the bill requires that anything be done during that period
to fix the Y2K failures quickly and for an affordable price.
"Requiring fixes of Y2K defects should be the minimum requirement
of any Y2K measure," said Claybrook. "Senate passage would protect the
very same corporations that knowingly created the Y2K defect for their own profit
and have failed to fix the defect," said Claybrook. "The bill would
pre-empt existing state laws that give consumers and small companies access to
The final Senate vote on the Y2K Liability Limit bill is set
for Tuesday, June 15. Despite their vociferous pleading over the past months that
the bill must be passed immediately, proponents of the measure postponed the vote
to coincide with the National Summit on High Technology, being held in Washington
June 14-16, allowing hundreds of CEOs -- including Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates,
IBM Chairman Louis V. Gerstner, Intel President Craig Barrett, TechNet President
Robert Katz, Adobe Systems Chairman John Warnock, and Novell Chairman Eric Schmidt
-- to lobby for this special legal shield.
U.S. Senators Who May Vote Against Consumers and Small Businesses
on Getting Y2K Defects Fixed
Senator Bryan (D-NV)
Senator Reid (D-NV)
Senator Byrd (D-WV)
Senator Moynihan (D-NY)
Senator Robb (D-VA)
Senator Baucus (D-MT)
Senator Kerrey (D-NE)
Senator Murray (D-WA)
Senator Kohl (D-WI)
Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Senator Roth (R-DE)
Senator Specter (R-PA)
Senator Thompson (R-TN)
Senator Campbell (R- CO)