Jarrell Cook

Bills undercutting California manufacturers of connected devices move to Governor’s desk

By Jarrell Cook, Policy Director, Government Relations

Capitol Update, Sept. 4, 2018 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

AB 1906 (Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks) and SB 327 (Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara) have passed out of their respective houses and moved to the Governor’s desk. The bills attempt to create a cybersecurity framework to regulate the growing 'Internet of Things.'

However, CMTA and a coalition of manufacturers, cybersecurity professionals, and consumer technology advocates oppose both measures because they intentionally create a loophole that exempts importers of connected devices from needing to comply with the bills’ provisions. While California manufacturers will continue to -- as they already do -- invest in the research and development of technology to better secure connected devices, their competitors can simply buy an indistinguishable but unsecured good from an overseas manufacturer, import it to California, brand it with their own label, and sell it to unknowing consumers without any responsibility or liability for its security defects.

Thus, as noted by the California Department of Finance, the bills “place California internet-connected device manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage while providing the means for non-compliant devices to enter California's marketplace” and “exempts sellers from a responsibility to ensure these devices comply with this bill -- meaning that many non-compliant devices may still enter the California marketplace, and likely at a lower cost to consumers than compliant devices.”

Manufacturers repeatedly advocated for a fix to the bill that would include connected device importers, but the bills were sent to the Governor despite this simple and easily achievable request that legislators acknowledged was a legitimate concern. While manufacturers support cybersecurity they also recognize that hackers do not care where a device comes from. All connected devices entering the California market must be under the same regulation or lawmakers distort the market in favor of imports and encourage outsourcing to support competitiveness, fairness and security.  

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