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Product safety laws face modernisation to better protect online shoppers

Product safety laws are to be modernised to better protect customers when shopping online and buying products such as smart devices, the Government has announced.

The Department for Business and Trade said the plans would cut business costs and reduce unnecessary red tape with the introduction of measures like electronic labelling, enabling them to invest more in their own firms.

It said much of the current regime was underpinned by “outdated” EU laws, with some dating back to 1987.

A consultation will seek views on how the UK can better regulate innovations such as connected devices including smart watches and speakers, and artificial intelligence, while ensuring British businesses are not “stifled” by red tape.

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch said: “I am determined to use our post-Brexit freedoms to identify outdated EU laws placing unnecessary burdens on business and reform them to benefit both companies and consumers.

“These changes will provide better consumer protections while upholding our world-leading safety standards and will also cut costs for business to ensure they have the freedom they need to innovate and thrive, helping to create jobs and grow the economy.”

The Government is also consulting on a new approach to the fire safety of domestic upholstered furniture and addressing modern domestic hazards.

The announcement comes a day after the Government announced that Britain is to retain the EU’s product safety CE mark indefinitely, rather than make its own post-Brexit alternative compulsory, in a move welcomed by manufacturers.

Lesley Rudd, chief executive of safety charity Electrical Safety First, said: “For too long online marketplaces have been allowed to avoid responsibility for the sale of lethal goods on their platforms. The Product Safety Review must put an end to this scandal.

“For years we have highlighted how dangerous goods on online marketplaces are a relentless everyday problem for UK shoppers. Our mounting evidence – which is supported by the Government’s own investigations – is undeniable: online giants contribute greatly to dangerous goods entering UK homes. This must be stamped out.

“It’s imperative the review makes good on its promise to make online shopping as safe as shopping on the high street. This is a critical moment.

“The Government must act now to protect the safety of online shoppers and introduce legislation to ensure online marketplaces are not unfairly exempt from safety laws that our reputable high street retailers are rightly bound by. The forthcoming King’s Speech is the perfect opportunity to make this happen.”

Sue Davies, head of consumer protection policy at Which?, said: “Which? investigations have consistently uncovered dangerous products being sold on popular online marketplaces, yet the Government and the Office for Product Safety and Standards have only produced dither and delay when what is needed is urgent action to bring online shopping safety protections up to date.

“It’s completely unacceptable for the Government to keep kicking the can down the road when dangerous items are ending up in people’s homes every day.

“While promoting UK business is important, to fix the UK’s product safety system the Government must quickly establish new regulations that put consumer safety first and enable tough enforcement action against online marketplaces and other businesses that break the rules.”

2 August 2023

Source : Yahoo!news