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Government sets out plans to modernise product safety laws

Josie Clarke, PA Consumer Affairs Correspondent
·1-min read

Decades-old product safety laws are to be modernised to ensure they are fit for cutting-edge technology such as artificial intelligence and 3D printing, the Government has announced.

A call for evidence will investigate how regulations can keep up with technology such as machine learning within AI and products built in consumers’ homes by 3D printing.

Rules will be checked for purpose against connected devices like smart watches and fridge freezers, where software upgrades make responsibility for product safety more complex.

The Government is seeking views from manufacturers, distributors, consumers and the wider public over the next three months and intends to publish a summary of responses and an evidence paper within another 12 weeks.

There are expected to be 50 billion devices connected to the internet globally by 2030, including everything from smartphones to toasters to complex robots, meaning a fivefold increase in such devices in 10 years.

The announcement is the first step in updating the legal framework for product safety, some of which dates back to the Consumer Protection Act of 1987.

Business Minister Paul Scully said: “Now the UK has the freedom to set our own standards, we are determined to power ahead with a new, modern product safety regime which will unleash the creative potential of our businesses while keeping consumers safe.

“Much of the product safety system was devised in 1987 when The Terminator was still out on Betamax. Now we want to make sure artificial intelligence and robotics are working for us and not against by making the UK a world-leader for both safety and cutting-edge innovation.”