back to article UK product safety regulations are failing consumers online, in the IoT, and … with artificial intelligence?

A report into the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has highlighted “gaps in regulators' powers”, with major risks found in oversight of online marketplaces, “smart” Internet of Things devices — and, oddly, artificial intelligence. Also worrying are Brexit related regulatory issues such as an upcoming deadline for …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cell phones?

    “Regulations have also not kept pace with newer types of product such as ‘smart’ technologies or artificial intelligence. These product types are continually developed, and items already purchased can have their software updated, but they are not specifically considered within current regulations.”

    So if there are any safety or functional issues with a product that you purchase then you will be billed for the cost of replacing or fixing it. The Grenfell mess is pretty much the same way we treat cell phone batteries - you have a problem? We'll bill you for it.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Cell phones?

      Problem - cheap flammable cyanide generating cladding on public housing kills lots of people

      Response - ban open source roms for cell phones

  2. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Import of unregulared material is a mess. I have purchased items specifically because I believed they were not conformant to claimed elentrical safety standards ( and they were not) - only then could they be reported and taken off the market. There are a couple of Youtubers 'doing their bit' with supposedly safe electrical items which are tested for any sort of conformity to safety standards and some results are downright scary. As specified in the article, it appears that Amazon or whoever is not responsible for the safety of goods being sold so responsibility for safety is offloaded to Joe Public who, quite rightly, cannot be expected to know a dangerous cable from a safe one or a fake fuse from a real one or a dangerous plug top from a safe one (I had one item where all three were clearly wrong!) We are not necessarily considering "fake" items but items that are bought in good faith (eg an extension lead or a pre-wired mains lamp).

    We really, really need to get our heads around product safety again, as we did 50 years ago when we led the world. Without the backing of the EU we need to invest much more in our own safety standards, product testing and validation and it's patently obvious that the Government are not doing that ... Until another Grenfell happens the Government will keep its wallet closed.

    1. Halfmad

      The EU safety regs didn't stop Grenfell, product safety tests done in the UK may not either.

      Proper on site surveys of buildings, which used to be done years ago may do so - if the companies conducting them can be held liable should they miss something.

      It's not just a case of checking products though, especially in construction and manufacturing but also how they are applied, what methods of treatment are used, what products are near, touching, heating/cooling, have current going through them etc.

      It's a bit like welding box sections in bridge construction, it CAN be effective but if done incorrectly introduces stresses within the material which MAY affect performance depending on the type of bridge the box section is part of.

      It needs a layered approach to safety.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        The EU safety regs didn't stop Grenfell

        Because they don't exist, these are UK regulations.

        The Paper Trail: the Failure of Building Regulations

        The same kind of cladding was already banned in France for buildings over 50m tall.

  3. Tony W

    Local regulators, international companies

    How can hard-up local trading standards officers deal effectively with huge national and multi-national companies? It's not just safety, we need a national trading standards enforcement agency.

    And the myth that eBay are just putting buyers and sellers in contact with each other needs to be smashed. They do a lot more than that,and they shouldn't be allowed to profit from the sale of dangerous items.

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: Local regulators, international companies

      Totally agree. If they allow the sale of new items they should take responsibilityfor them conforming to safety standards. In most cases, if you go to an auction the auction company will insist electrical equipment is PAT tested before selling it - what's the difference between that and eBlag?

  4. Licenced_Radio_Nerd

    CE mark has been pointless for years!

    Here in the radio community, we have seen the CE mark as essentially pointless for years. Any electronic device found to be in breach of the testing standards, or fails the Essential Requirements of the EMC directive, is automatically ignored by the NGO responsible if it has a CE mark. "It conformed when placed on the market" is their standard get-out retort - even when presented with clear evidence that the device has no filtering components fitted. I doubt if UKCA will improve the situation without scrapping the likes of EN50561 and banning the import of junk electronics. All electronic imports should have to be screened, with random samples taken to ensure compliance with safety and EMC testing standards. That is going to require qualified staff and money - something no government wants to do. It has to be seen to be on the side of big-biz. As long as people make money, it does not matter if your phone battery explodes, or your cheap import laptop power brick wipes out radio services across half the town.

    1. Shalghar

      Re: CE mark has been pointless for years!

      Oh but there are several "CE" marks. One with a microscopic difference in the length of the mittle finger of the "E" that actually reads "China Export" on the product sticker.

      Gets somewhat scary when the charger for a motorization upgrade for hand moved pallet carts has a standard 2 pin euro plug for the wall outlet and the very same type of plug every PC has in its power supply as connector for the 48VDC LiPo battery - with the outer pins for plus and minus and what would be PE/earth not assigned. Translation software says its called "rubber plug", german word is "Kaltgerätestecker" due to historical reasons.

      When it comes to any kind of security features, even the cheapest italan kits are way better - and i mean noname stuff even under the already shoddy ZAPI "standards".

      So why not make the sale of such dangers a criminal offense ? Less obvious deathtraps are even more critical.

      With all the self praise on the online sellers sites, what could anyone search for ? Faked fivestar-"reviews"?

      Technical information on those products is often false or misinformingly worded, photos dont show the actual product or hide the relevant parts. Letting the seller sites go unchecked an uncontested and letting the customer take all the risk is inappropriate - much more so if the customer is not the least bit tech savvy.

      And yes, i am called whenever some tech allergic relatives go onlineshopping to mitigate the risks.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why do we need UKCA?

    What was wrong with BSI, and their kite mark?

    My bet's on UKCA just being another QUANGO/NGO gravy train

  6. batfink


    So people are happy to buy substandard electrical items provided they're 50% off? Sounds like Darwinism at work, but it might be a too bit slow to be effective.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Eeek

      >So people are happy to buy substandard electrical items provided they're 50% off?

      Would like to see what the actual question was.

      Hey kids, would you buy a fake branded T-shirt, handbag, headphones for 50% off ?

      Headline - children would buy killer sub-standard electronics = wont somebody think of the children, ban Chinese cell phones now.

    2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like Darwinism at work

      Problem is if they live in a high-density high-rise block it is not just themselves that are affected.

      Whirlpool washing machines anyone?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sounds like Darwinism at work

        Not just Whirlpool washing machines Ken, tumble driers too...

        My Bosch dishwasher also had a safety recall, apparently there was a fault condition where in the final 90° rinse the heaters would go full chat even if there was no water being fed in. You can guess the result.

        They did contact me and come out and do a mod to fix it.

        But even now I never run the dishwasher or washing machine unless I'm at home.

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: They did contact me and come out and do a mod to fix it.

          They fitted the Lambretta fix?

          "tumble driers too..."

          Sorry. Yes!

          "But even now I never run the dishwasher or washing machine unless I'm at home."

          Very wise!

  7. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    I hope that any regulation that is coming, will not be used to tackle people stating their own online stores being tired of fees and predatory practices by giant marketplaces.

    Given who can donate more to the party, I think I have the answer...

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