The Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill (2021-22).

The Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill (PSTIB) will be re-read on 26 January 2022.

The Bill would:

  • Let the Secretary Of State make regulations for the application of mandatory security requirements to connectable products sold in the UK.
  • Changes to the electronic communication code that governs telecom companies’ rights to place infrastructure on land.
  • Information about the Bill’s stages and related publications is provided on the Page for Parliamentary Bill. 

    Security requirements must be met for connected products

    Part 1 of the Bill deals with the power and obligation to set security requirements for connected products such as smart phones, smart TVs and connected speakers.  These products could also referred to as “smart devices”Or “internet of things (IoT”) devices. 

    What are the safety and security standards of smart devices?

    Although connected products are subjected a certain safety standard, there are no current mandatory security requirements. Consumers are becoming more concerned about the possible risks associated with these products. These include privacy and safety issues as well as the possibility of cyber-attacks.

    The Government published a voluntary Code of Practice for Consumer IoT Security,2018 It gave manufacturers and others guidance (13 Principles), about how to ensure secure connectable products.

    In 2019, the Government sought consultation on the possibility of imposing mandatory security requirements for connectable products. This was done to address low adoption rates and ongoing risks to consumers.  Legislative proposals were considered in 2020.

    What would you do to change the Bill?

    The Bill would allow Secretary of State to regulate security requirements for UK-sold connected products.

    The The Government has statedThe Bill intends to have the following effects:

  • smartphones
  • Cameras, TVs & speakers, and other connected devices
  • connected children’s toysMonitors for babies
  • You can connect safety-relevant products such as smoke detectors and door locks
  • Internet of Things base stations and hubs that connect multiple devices with the Internet of Things
  • Your wrist has a fitness tracker.
  • Outdoor leisure products such as GPS-enabled devices with handheld connectivity that aren’t wearables
  • Home automation and alarm system that can be connected with the internet
  • Appliances that have an electrical connection, such as washing machines and refrigerators, can be used
  • Smart home assistants
  • Some products, such as smart meters, medical equipment and vehicles, will be exempted.

    The Government indicated that it will use clause 1 of Bill to implement the Code of Practice’s top 3 guidelines.

  • A ban on default passwords;
  • The product must comply with a vulnerability disclosure program that allows for the identification, notification, and correction of any security flaws.
  • Transparency is required regarding the timeframe for which security updates are provided by a manufacturer.
  • It would also impose duties on manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of these products to ensure compliance with the statutes. 

    The Bill describes a range of enforcement options that may be used in the case of a breach. For serious issues of non-compliance, the Bill sets the maximum penalty at £10 million or 4% of the company’s worldwide revenue.

    Modifications to the electronic communications code

    Part 2 would include modifications to the electronic communication codes (ECC). The ECC governs all rights of telecoms firms to build infrastructure on UK soil.

    Reforms in ECC before.

    2017 saw significant reforms to ECC. These included changes in rights of share and upgrade infrastructure, as well as changes to dispute settlement procedures. It also changed the value of land to determine rents for hosting telecom equipment.

    The ECC reforms have been controversial. There have been many opposing views from site providers and telecoms operators. The Government must strike a delicate balance between making digital connectivity available to all and protecting property rights.

    The land valuation reforms are particularly controversial. Reports indicate that Rents for hosting telecom equipmentThey have been reduced in some cases. According to the ECC this is a major reason for Restrictions on infrastructure roll-outthrough lengthy negotiations and legal procedures.

    The Government’s consultationThe Bill did not include a section on land valuation.

     What would the Bill change?

    The Bill encourages faster and better collaboration in the installation and maintenance of private telecoms equipment. The GovernmentThis would allow rapid rollout digital infrastructure such gigabit broadband or 5G.

    These are the changes that would be made to the Bill:

  • New provisions encourage alternative dispute settlement to legal proceedings whenever it is possible
  • It is faster to allow telecom operators temporary access on land and to put in infrastructure when the occupier isn’t responsive.
  • Allowing telecom operators to upgrade or automatically share equipment before 2017.
  • Modifications to the ECC’s drafting to clarify who can grant rights for infrastructure to be hosted on land in the event that infrastructure has been installed.
  • Modifications to terms of renewal for certain types of telecoms contracts that were in place before December 2017
  • Setting a time frame for the court’s resolution of disputes regarding the renewal code agreements.
  • Temporary, interim orders may be requested to make changes in the telecoms infrastructure agreement (e.g. During renewal, access rights and rent payments can be requested.
  • Most of these changes were controversial for both telecom operators and site providers. While telecom operators agreed that changes were needed, most site providers disagreed.

    The Bill would apply to the whole of the UK.

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    Source: The Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill (2021-22).

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