Obama signs legislation allowing regulatory e-labels for smartphones, wearables

The physical labels on devices can now be replaced by information displayed on the screen

U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law Wednesday the E-Label Act that will make it easier for vendors to display regulatory approvals electronically rather than etch them physically on the exterior of the device.

Devices that use radio frequency have to be authorized by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission before they can be marketed or sold in the U.S.

The E-Label Act, passed by both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, aimed to allow manufacturers to display the statutory FCC label digitally on the screen of the device, which would be easier for makers of smartphones and wearables that are having much less free space on the outside of the devices.

Known formally as the "Enhance Labeling, Accessing, and Branding of Electronics Licenses Act of 2014," the new legislation has recognized that compliance with the FCC physical label requirement has proven to be difficult and costly. The legislation was recently passed unanimously in both the Senate and the House.

The FCC already allows digital labels in some cases, starting with devices approved as software-defined radios and modular transmitters. In July, it released guidance on how devices with an integrated display screen can present the required label information electronically instead of through a physical label or nameplate.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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