The UK Government has announced a consultation on its proposal for standards to safely regulate home smart appliances. The proposal highlights a number of principles that manufacturers of connected appliances will need to consider: interoperability, data protection, grid-stability, cyber-security, and consumer protection. These principles create new opportunities and challenges for manufacturers.

Under each principle the consultation proposes a number of functionalities for inclusion in the standard. Here is a flavour of the issues that manufacturers will need to consider:

  • Interoperability: open standards is one proposal to ensure that all smart appliances can communicate.
  • Grid-stability: technology that allows electricity usage to be staggered may be a solution to the risk that the anticipated demand for smart appliances (together with IoT and electric cars) could pose a threat to the stability of the energy system.
  • Cyber-security: there are a range of proposals to prevent the unauthorized use of smart appliances damaging the grid or individual users. As we discussed here, cyber attacks on connected devices could potentially pose a safety risk to consumers.
  • Data & consumer protection: smart appliances must comply with existing data privacy and consumer protection laws.

The proposal presently envisages that a label on the smart appliances would record compliance with the standards.

The Government envisages a close international alignment across both the EU and the USA. There are safety and trade benefits to this approach. A failure to match the highest global standards could invite the dumping of inferior products in the UK. The broadest alignment also encourages trade by allowing manufacturers to sell their products across multiple markets.

Stakeholders are invited to work with the Government to develop these standards. It is keen to engage industry and draw on the technical expertise across the smart appliance sector. The consultation is open until 8 June 2018.

The Government’s proposals are available here:

Posted by Jamie Humphreys

Jamie Humphreys is a litigation and regulatory lawyer. He is a strategic advisor to clients who face critical threats to their business at all stages of the product life-cycle, working with them to ensure the most favourable outcome and manage any reputational impact. He also provides policy advice to clients on proposed legislation and regulations that may introduce profound changes to their business. He has acted on high profile litigation across a range of different industries, internal investigations into allegations of fraud by global products manufacturers, major corruption investigations for Governments, and B2B product liability disputes, international recalls and consumer claims for well-known global brands. He is passionate about the impact that new technologies such as 3D printing, AI and Internet of Things will have in the products space and works with clients to ensure they prosper within a dynamic regulatory environment.