emits draft IoT and smartphone security law for Parliamentary scrutiny

Mandatory vuln reporting, hefty fines for non-compliance

A new British IoT product security law is racing through the House of Commons, with the government boasting it will outlaw default admin passwords and more.

The Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure (PSTI) Bill was introduced yesterday and is intended to drive up security standards in consumer tech gadgetry, ranging from IoT devices to phones, fondleslabs, smart TVs, and so on.

Digital infrastructure minister Julia Lopez MP said in a canned statement: "Our Bill will put a firewall around everyday tech from phones and thermostats to dishwashers, baby monitors and doorbells, and see huge fines for those who fall foul of tough new security standards."

The new law has been years in the making and follows lots of international wailing and gnashing of teeth over non-existent minimum security standards for Internet of Things devices – which both the US and European Union (along with the UK) are tackling. Yet the bill as drafted will apply to mobile phones and similar smart devices too.

David Rogers, chairman of the GSMA's Fraud and Security Group and author of the UK's 2018 Code of Practice on IoT Security, hailed the PSTI Bill as "absolutely crucial".

"We knew there was market failure already," he told The Register, referring to the problem of default admin passwords being freely published online, giving cybercrims an open goal when pwning exposed devices. "But there was an opportunity, really, for industry to sort of deal with the situation. And it was quite clear that actually, the opposite was happening. There was pushback, and people didn't want to do stuff."

Other industry figures, most notably former National Cyber Security Centre chief Ciaran Martin, have spoken approvingly of the government's explicitly interventionist stance on securing devices used in their millions by non-techie people.

The bill imposes duties on consumer product manufacturers to comply with security standards laid down by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

It will also force manufacturers to "take all reasonable steps to investigate" if a vulnerability is reported to them – and to fix such vulns. Manufacturers will also have to disclose vulns to importers, distributors and government officials, as well as customers.

As for enforcement of these new regs, isn't messing around. A government statement said: "This new cyber security regime will be overseen by a regulator, which will be designated once the Bill comes into force, and will have the power to fine companies for non-compliance up to £10 million or four per cent of their global turnover, as well as up to £20,000 a day in the case of an ongoing contravention."

Other parts of the bill deal with telecoms infrastructure laws, including changes to the controversial Telecommunications Infrastructure Code, which sets out who can plant mobile masts on other people's land and how much the landowner gets paid for that.

The draft bill can be viewed here [72-page PDF]. It is now subject to normal Parliamentary debate and amendment, which The Register will be following.

Smartphone security's a hot topic

In related news, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) released a new smartphone security standard, ETSI TI 103 732. This focuses on security of user data and improving privacy in smartphones.

"The new ETSI standard specifies security requirements for consumer mobile devices. It ensures the protection of key user data such as photos, videos, user location, emails, SMS, calls, passwords for web services, and fitness related data," said the institute in a statement. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • India reveals home-grown server that won't worry the leading edge

    And a National Blockchain Strategy that calls for gov to host BaaS

    India's government has revealed a home-grown server design that is unlikely to threaten the pacesetters of high tech, but (it hopes) will attract domestic buyers and manufacturers and help to kickstart the nation's hardware industry.

    The "Rudra" design is a two-socket server that can run Intel's Cascade Lake Xeons. The machines are offered in 1U or 2U form factors, each at half-width. A pair of GPUs can be equipped, as can DDR4 RAM.

    Cascade Lake emerged in 2019 and has since been superseded by the Ice Lake architecture launched in April 2021. Indian authorities know Rudra is off the pace, and said a new design capable of supporting four GPUs is already in the works with a reveal planned for June 2022.

    Continue reading
  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021