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House E&C Passes E-LABEL Act

The House Energy & Commerce Committee has approved the E-LABEL Act (the Enhance Labeling, Accessing, and Branding of Electronic Licenses Act of 2014), which essentially gives the FCC nine months to do what it has already done, which is to allow the manufacturers of electronic devices with integrated screens to opt for on-screen and online labels to provide FCC-required information—like certification and testing—rather than having to affix or etch a physical label.

E-LABEL bills were introduced in the House and Senate at around the same time the FCC announced it was changing its guidelines to allow for onscreen and online labeling of devices with integrated screens, essentially mooting the bills, though the legislation means the FCC could not take the unlikely step of changing its mind and reverting to a physical label mandate.

On July 11, the FCC's Office of Engineering & Technology issued new labeling guidance saying it was authorized to allow alternative means of labeling and it was doing so by advising that all devices with an integral screen can now display that label digitally on that screen, and up to three steps deep into the device menu. The user manual must include information on accessing that FCC info, or it can be on the equipment's website.

Removable labels with the FCC info must still be on the products or their packaging when they are shipped and sold.

Digital labeling will save manufacturers money. In addition, physical labels are more difficult to execute on devices (smart phones being a notable example) that are getting smaller.