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Product safety law revamp to boost protection for online shoppers

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

The Government has announced it will ‘modernise’ product safety laws to ensure they’re fit for the digital age.

Announcing a consultation, the Government said it wanted to update the UK’s product safety laws, some of which date back more than 30 years. The Government said that, having left the EU, the UK can now create its own product safety regime to “better suit British businesses”.

The new legislation will ensure online retailers follow the same rules as high street stores and take account of 21st century innovations such as internet-connected devices and artificial intelligence.

In addition to the product safety review, the Government will also be launching a consultation on a proposed new approach to the fire safety of domestic upholstered furniture. This will be aimed at improving fire safety standards for consumers and addressing modern day domestic hazards.

Kemi Badenoch, business secretary, said: “I am determined to use our post-Brexit freedoms to identify outdated EU laws placing unnecessary burdens on business and reform them to benefit both companies and consumers.

“These changes will provide better consumer protections while upholding our world-leading safety standards and will also cut costs for business to ensure they have the freedom they need to innovate and thrive, helping to create jobs and grow the economy.”

Security updates

The consultation about product safety comes just days after the Government was quizzed about electronic product security updates.

Labour MP Stephanie Peacock asked the secretary of state for science, innovation and technology whether the department was taking steps to require online distributors to inform consumers of the minimum length of time a smart product sold online would receive security updates.

Answering the question, Conservative MP George Freeman said: “When the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act’s product security regime comes into effect, manufacturers will be required to publish the minimum period of time the product will receive security updates for (the ‘defined support period’), including in a ‘statement of compliance’ that accompanies the product. This will be required if they are aware or ought to be aware that their product will be made available to UK consumers, including via online spaces.”

However, the Government does not currently plan to make it mandatory for the distributors of these products to publicise the defined support period available, although it said it encouraged distributors “to take this action voluntarily”.

“If the manufacturer fails to publish the defined support period, the enforcement authority can issue notices demanding that the manufacturer, importer or distributor stop selling the product. They can also seize products from any person in the supply chain and recall them from end users,” said Freeman, “We will be monitoring the effectiveness of the product security regime when it comes into effect. If evidence emerges suggesting further action to ensure the availability of the defined support period at points of purchase would be appropriate, the PSTI product security regime empowers ministers to take such action.”