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Have your say on the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill

28 January 2022

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Do you have relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill 2021-22, which is currently passing through Parliament?

If so, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee which is going to consider this Bill.

The Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration.

The Public Bill Committee will scrutinise the Bill line by line. The first sitting of the Public Bill Committee is expected to be on Tuesday 15 March and the Committee is scheduled to report by Tuesday 29 March. However, please note that when the Committee concludes its consideration of the Bill it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Tuesday 29 March. You are strongly advised to submit your written evidence as soon as possible.

Aims of the Bill

The Bill would:

  • Allow the Secretary of State to make regulations to introduce mandatory security requirements for connectable products sold in the UK; and
  • Make changes to the electronic communications code which governs the rights of telecoms companies to install infrastructure on land.

Security requirements for connectable products

Part 1 of the Bill relates to powers to introduce mandatory security requirements for connectable products such as smart phones, smart TVs and connected speakers.  These products may also be described as smart devices, or internet of things (IoT) devices. 

What would the Bill change?

The Bill would provide regulation-making powers for the Secretary of State to introduce security requirements for connectable products sold in the UK.

The Government has said that it intends the following products to be affected by the Bill:

  • smartphones
  • connected cameras, TVs and speakers
  • connected children’s toys and baby monitors
  • connected safety-relevant products such as smoke detectors and door locks
  • Internet of Things base stations and hubs to which multiple devices connect
  • Wearable connected fitness trackers
  • outdoor leisure products, such as handheld connected GPS devices that are not wearables
  • connected home automation and alarm systems
  • connected appliances, such as washing machines and fridges
  • smart home assistants.

Some products would be excluded, such as smart meters, medical devices, vehicles and smart chargepoints (for electric vehicles).

The Government said it will use the powers under clause 1 of the Bill to introduce the top three guidelines from the Code of Practice:

  • A ban on default passwords;
  • A requirement for products to have a vulnerability disclosure policy whereby any security weakness in a product is identified and notified; and
  • A requirement for transparency about the time period for which a manufacturer will provide security updates for the product.

It would also place duties on manufacturers, importers and distributers of these products to ensure compliance with the statutory requirements and to take action where a compliance failure has occurred. 

The Bill sets out a number of enforcement measures that could be taken when there is a breach of compliance. For serious issues of non-compliance, the Bill sets the maximum penalty at £10 million or 4% of the company’s worldwide revenue.

Changes to the electronic communications code

Part 2 of the Bill would make changes to the electronic communications code (ECC). The ECC is the main law that governs the rights of telecoms companies to install infrastructure on land, UK-wide.

What would the Bill change?

The Bill aims to encourage faster and more collaborative negotiations for the installation and maintenance of telecoms equipment on private land. The Government says this would help ensure the efficient roll-out of digital infrastructure such as gigabit-broadband and 5G.

The main changes the Bill would make include:

  • New provisions to actively encourage alternative dispute resolution rather than legal proceedings where possible;
  • Introducing a faster procedure to allow telecoms operators to get temporary rights to access and install infrastructure on land when an occupier is unresponsive;
  • Giving telecoms operators rights to automatically upgrade and share equipment that was installed before 2017;
  • Changes to the drafting of the ECC to clarify who can grant rights to host infrastructure on land in cases where infrastructure is already installed;
  • Changes to the terms for renewing certain types of telecoms agreements that were in place before December 2017;
  • Allowing a time period to be set for the court to resolve disputes on the renewal of code agreements; and
  • Changes to what can be sought as temporary, interim orders while a telecoms infrastructure agreement is being renewed (for example, access rights in addition to rent payments).

The Bill would apply to all of the UK.

Follow the progress of the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill 2021-22

The Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill 2021-22 was introduced on 24 November 2021. It had its Second Reading on 26 January 2022.

Oral evidence sessions are expected to be held on 15 March 2022.

Guidance on submitting written evidence

Deadline for written evidence submissions

The Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration and possibly reflect it in an amendment. The order in which amendments are taken in Committee will be available in due course under Selection of Amendments on the Bill documents pages. Once the Committee has dealt with an amendment it will not revisit it.

The first sitting of the Public Bill Committee is expected to be on Tuesday 15 March and the Committee is scheduled to report by Tuesday 29 March. However, please note that when the Committee concludes its consideration of the Bill it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Tuesday 29 March. You are strongly advised to submit your written evidence as soon as possible.

Your submission should be emailed to scrutiny@parliament.uk

Further guidance on submitting written evidence can be found here.

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