A new proposal introduced in the US Senate called the “E-Label Act” would allow electronics manufacturers the option of using “digital” stamps of regulatory approval on devices rather than the physical emblems now required to show that the device has passed required safety and federal inspections. The bill is a bipartisan effort, with a goal of lowering costs for manufacturers as well as allowing further design freedom. It would not remove all such markings, due to the international nature of some of them. To use a typical example, an iPhone has six markings on the back of the device not required by Apple. Beyond Apple’s own etchings, there is an FCC ID number, a IC number, and the IMEI number. Below that are logos for the FCC regulatory approval, the European WEEE Directive, the European CE mark and number, and finally a symbol with an exclamation point in a circle.
A bipartisan pair of senators is looking to overhaul the way companies stamp labels on phones, computers and other electronic devices. Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the Senate Commerce Committee chairman, introduced the E-Label Act on Thursday to allow companies to meet Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements with digital stamps, instead of etching labels onto the devices themselves. That should lower costs for manufacturers, they said, which makes products cheaper for consumers. “As manufacturers continue to produce groundbreaking technologies, it only makes sense that federal labeling requirements for these products are updated to further promote innovation and create new opportunities in the digital age,” Fischer said in a statement. “This bipartisan measure will provide relief for job creators, benefit consumers, and promote modern regulations that better suit a 21st century marketplace.” The bill was met with broad support from industry groups and members of the FCC. Commissioners Michael O’Rielly, a Republican, and Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said in a joint statement that the bill would lead to “more devices and new technologies … designed with innovation in mind, rather than regulatory labeling requirements.” Veronica O’Connell, the vice president of government and political affairs at the Consumer Electronics Association, called the bill a “commonsense approach for the digital age.” “E-labeling would be cost-effective, in keeping with the consumer electronics industry’s important ongoing environmental sustainability efforts and a beneficial and innovative use of today’s technology,” she added.