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: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/proposals-regarding-setting-standards-for-smart-appliance