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CPSC to Examine Safety Issues Associated with Internet-Connected Consumer Goods

Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Consumer Product Safety Commission will conduct a public hearing May 16 in Bethesda, Md., on potential safety issues and hazards associated with Internet-connected consumer products. In addition, the CPSC is accepting written comments on this topic through June 15. The information collected will be used to inform the CPSC’s future risk management work.

The CPSC states that there has been an increase in the number of consumer products with a connection to the Internet that can transmit or receive data, upload or download operating software or firmware, or communicate with other Internet-connected devices. This connected environment is commonly called “the Internet of Things.” The Commission states that while this connectivity holds the promise of many benefits for consumers, it is also capable of introducing a potential for harm where none existed before. Examples of hazards created by an Internet-connected product include remote operation (e.g., the remote activation of the heating elements on a cooktop could create a fire or burn hazard), unexpected operating conditions (e.g., a change in software/firmware code (malicious or otherwise) could create a hazard), and loss of a safety function (e.g., through a failure to properly download a software update).

The CPSC is therefore interested in the following topics, among others.

- whether current voluntary standards and/or safety regulations address safety hazards specific to IoT-connected devices

- what types of devices would or would not need controls or supervisory systems

- whether certification to appropriate standards should be required before IoT devices are allowed in the marketplace

- industry best practices for predicting potential hazards caused by IoT-connected devices

- available controls or supervisory systems to mitigate potential hazards caused by misuse of IoT-connected devices

- ways the CPSC can collaborate with other federal agencies to address potential safety hazards related to IoT

- the role of the government in keeping consumers safe regarding IoT devices

- how the CPSC should consider responsibilities for hazards or injuries among the various contributors to an Internet-connected product associated with an incident

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