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Consumer Reports: White House proposal for national labeling system for connected products would boost security, privacy and transparency

WASHINGTON, DC – The White House hosted an event today for the official launch of a national labeling system for consumer connected devices. Consumer Reports was among the organizations on hand for the announcement, which marks a significant step forward in enhancing the transparency — and ultimately the security and privacy — of connected devices.

“We are pleased to join the White House and industry leaders in announcing a national labeling system for consumers’ connected devices,” said Marta L. Tellado, president and CEO of Consumer Reports. “As we’ve seen in other industries, labels like this can create powerful incentives for companies to improve the quality of their products. They would give consumers a better understanding of how well a device protects their data, so they can exercise their power in selecting better products and encouraging that race to the top. This proposal has great potential to improve the security and privacy of the devices we bring into our homes, promoting trust and accountability that’s been missing for too long. Working together, we can pave the way for a safer and more secure digital marketplace.” 

In 2021, the Biden Administration issued a cybersecurity executive order that called for a number of items including the establishment of a national labeling scheme for consumer connected devices. 

With support from Craig Newmark Philanthropies and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in 2022, Consumer Reports launched its cybersecurity initiative to scale up its product research and testing to identify cyber dangers and advance solutions. As part of this work, Consumer Reports partnered with researchers at the Carnegie Mellon CyLab Security & Privacy Institute and Duke University’s InSPIre Lab to develop a nutrition label for connected devices inspired by the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s recommended criteria.

Justin Brookman, director of technology policy at Consumer Reports, added, “This marks a great first step towards introducing greater transparency in the connected devices space, but a long road remains. We must also ensure effective implementation of the labels, adoption of the program, and continue focusing on enhancing consumer education around digital security. Our hope is that this label will ignite a healthy sense of competition in the marketplace, compelling manufacturers to safeguard both the security and privacy of consumers who use connected devices and to commit to supporting those devices for the lifetime of those products.”

For more information on the work Consumer Reports is doing around the development of a labeling system for connected devices please visit our blog post or send an email to innovationlab@cr.consumer.org