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U.S. passes E-Label Act to free your gadgets from ugly labels

President Obama has signed the E-Label Act into law on Wednesday, which will allow electronics manufacturers to add labels for products using software rather than having to print the labels on hardware. Essentially, with the law, phones and tablets can be made with cleaner designs as labels and stickers will no longer be needed and the information could instead be found within the phone's software. While some Lumia phones hide their serial number and IMEI numbers under the SIM tray, some still ship with identifying labels; Windows tablets and notebooks ship with even more information.

According to a report on The Hill:

The change should give companies more flexibility under Federal Communications Commission rules, supporters argued, especially as consumer electronics get smaller and smaller.

Source: The Hill

Chuong Nguyen
Senior Editor

Chuong's passion for gadgets began with the humble PDA. Since then, he has covered a range of consumer and enterprise devices, raning from smartphones to tablets, laptops to desktops and everything in between for publications like Pocketnow, Digital Trends, Wareable, Paste Magazine, and TechRadar in the past before joining the awesome team at Windows Central. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, when not working, he likes exploring the diverse and eclectic food scene, taking short jaunts to wine country, soaking in the sun along California's coast, consuming news, and finding new hiking trails. For news tips or to connect, please message him on the Signal messaging app at +1 (424) 666-7438. 

115 Comments
  • Now if they can put internet into Title-II that would be great...
  • Just out of curiosity, have you ready Title II? Like, really read it? I know Net Neutrality proponents love to suggest it without knowing what it is, but if you actually get into the niddy griddy of it, enacting Title II would be the opposite of what you would want, and frankly, as someone who has actually read it, it always baffles me when someone suggests it while being FOR net neutrality. For example, Title II specificially provides for paid priortization of data based on the content that it provides and allows throttling depending on the time of day, what day it is, how many people are on the service, etc... Worst of all, Title II has over 1,600 regulatory clauses in it that would put many of the 3,000 ISPs out of business. The reason that Comcast, TWC, Verizon, etc... specifically don't want it is because of those regulatory clauses, not because Title II somehow protects Net Neutrality. Really, Title II is a ridiculous thing to even apply to the Internet anyways. It was a law created in the 1930s for the telecom industry and it's literally like making a law for apples apply to oranges, it just doesn't make any sense. Some proponents of Title II actually (and strangely) suggest "oh, just don't enact all of the parts", but that's the most stupid thing I've ever heard. Enacting a law from the 1930s to a different industry, then cutting out some parts of it is the most @$$ backwards thing I've ever heard. If you really want to support "net neutrality", the proper actions would be to either a) have Congress enact a law that builds a law from the ground up to enact on the internet on the way that makes sense. Considering how the majoirity of Congress is a bunch of old guys (although the Republicans have had a surge of youth recently after the midterm election), I don't think they can be trusted, especially considering many of them are already paid off. Alternatively, you could b) stop strangling the free market and let it do it's job (and I know liberals get so butthurt when I say this for some reason, but it's arguably the most effective). The most effective strategy would be to lower the barrier for new ISPs to come into the market and take away some of the market power of Comcast, TWC, and Verizon. By making it easier to become an ISP, more of these companies could get into the market. Initially, it wouldn't affect the smaller ISPs, but it would be more along the lines of letting Walmart or Amazon or Google become their own ISP without having to completely rebuild the entire infrastructure (like Google is doing with Fiber). This already happens in some places of Europe where one of the major retail chains (although I can't remember which one) has their own wifi services, and many other non-internet based companies do the same. Even though it won't affect the smaller guys, that's not the point. The point is that doing that would get the idea that you don't need Comcast or TWC to buy internet, and that there are alternatives. Once that mindset changes, then people will begin to support the local ISPs, and Comcast would lose their market power position and would be severely disadvantaged if they tried to go against net neutrality. I suggest more people do their research when it comes to blindly suggesting things.
  • Amen. Enjoyable read, Jas. Thanks!
  • wow, I just noticed a glaring typo in the first paragraph, I meant read, not ready XD
  • That's a pretty awesome clarification Jas, thanks.
  • This. Good comment.
  • Holy shit. One of the best reads ever read by myself. I just finished a PhD, and this comment was akin to the gazillions of posts I've had to write, read, and reply to (minus references). Good job, man.
  • Could you provide a link to the bill? Thanks.
  • China supports Net Neutrality. As in it all goes to their control first. So oh yeah please let it be a utility and regulated. Awesome post jas I am so tired of the real liberals having their views marginalized and the term hijacked by leftists. Nothing wrong with real liberal views. Big government control is anything but liberating.
  • Means eventually have to switch On the device first to know what's inside it and no other way, right? :P
  • "We have to activate it to see what's in it."
  • SCORE!!! LOL.
  • Or just look at the packaging papers with the info, it's that simple.
  • Means we cant throw away the packaging covers like earlier! :D
  • Pelosi is AWESOME!!!! I don't blame her as much as I blame the morons that keep voting for her.
  • Northern California tards
  • Yup, and from now on marketing people will start using markers to write the specs on top of the device! ;)
  • now it will be easier for people to make fake copies of a phone
  • Who says government can't get anything important done, huh?
  • Who requested the labels in the first place?
  • Some of it is safety info such as UL for power safety, etc.
  • Plugs device in to check if it has UL certification; house burns down.   Thanks Obama!
  • +SurfaceRT
  • Yeah, glad they finally have their priorities straight!
  • Finally Congress does something... Gives Obama something to sign.... And it's a stupid thing no one needs. Goodie, my device will be cleaner. That makes everything better! We don't need the environment to get protections. Fixing our broken patent laws? How about our immigration issues? Anything useful? Naw, lets get things done that make no useful change to society. Glad my laptop wont have a label on it I might actually want at some point. I don't blame Obama for this. I don't even blame the majority of Congress who thought, in their collective "wisdom", that this was a good idea. I put the blame on the idiots who keep electing officials who think THIS is important. Thanks people. You're helping.
     
  • While I agree lots of stuff like safety logos and stuff can be saved for software: If your device is bricked, the IMEI or serial numbers being software only won't do much good, will it?
  • Better screen shot it
  • How about electronic labels through the use of passive nfc tags embedded in place of the existing labels.
  • Yep same thing I was thinking..
  • 9 thumbs up.
  • Hmmm... But if this was the case, a thief could walk near you and get all the info of the devices you are carring, even if you have them inside a bag. But I'm just thinking out loud......
  • In fairness: NFC requires extremely close proximity, so such risks are incredibly small.
  • It says it allows OEMs to not put them on their if they choose
  • Indeed. But some companies (especially one very big "S" company) loves to do things without thinking, and then just waits to see how the market reacts. I fear some companies night just immediately jump on this "opportunity" to remove all labels, then make life difficult for those whose devices get bricked.
  • How about the packaging papers? It's not that damn serious.
  • Not serious, no, but could quickly become a huge pain in the ass for those it does impact. I.E: Antenna-Gate.
  • I am pretty sure an app will turn up, to save information about all the devices you own, on the cloud, so you can view it from anywhere.
  • If there are no exceptions, this is a horrible idea.
    "Let's try to fix your tablet, sir, now what is the model number?"
    "I don't know I have to turn it on to find out and it won't turn on."
    "Well you are screwed, thank Obama."
  • Do you know for sure that this means model numbers will be put in through software or do you even know what will be put as software lables?
  • Most electronic devices don't have their exact model number printed on them anyway, Sherlock.
  • I don't see an issue here. Print model numbers and serial numbers on a piece of cardboard or in the manual so they are accessible when the PC is turned off. Or put them on the device somewhere hidden (laptops often have this information underneath the battery)
  • As a phone tech, it sucks to know it wont be on there.
  • Lol
  • What's the point of electronics if you have to keep a piece of paper around to help you use your electronics?
  • Please elaborate. How often do you need to access your serial information for your electronic device and you can't boot said device? In mist cases this happens you need your proof of purchase (invoice for example) in printed form anyways, why not keep an additional sheet of paper containing all needed information? Or just provide stickers that people can attach to their invoices.
  • Such a ridiculous example - the model numbers will likely be shown in numerous places on the device. It's referring to all the ridiculous FCC emblems and other nonsense that noone ever reads, understands, or cares about. "Let's try to fix your tablet, now please read the terms and conditions from the bottom of your device and correctly identify all of the logos just to make sure they comply with FCC regulations and that your device can be safely recycled according to local laws"
    "Uh... how will any of those help me?"
    "Oh they won't at all, I'm just making a point"
  • Now, will they go one step further and prevent carriers from slapping on their god-awful looking carrier logos all over their phones?
  • Verizon.
  • Ain't gonna happen...
  • More room for a larger Verizon logo... Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • Lol that's exactly what came to mind as I read it as well lol
  • LOL. Exactly what I was thinking. Verizon and their hideously large logo.
  • There goes taxes... In showinfg the consumer for more confused products
  • What are you talking about? This has nothing to do with taxes.
  • I'd be afraid to know how much this little act cost. And after every stroke of a pen, there is an extravagant vacation for our wonderful Emperor.
  • Yeah...cause Obama's the one who shut down the government, and then refused to go without pay while doing nothing. Get your head out of your ass, Obama isn't anywhere close to an emperor, especially with how concerned congress has been attempting to make everything he approves of not happen, rather than actually doing their job and governing. Get your head out of your ass and turn of Fox news for once.
  • LOL.  So many assumptions about me.  So much revealed about you.
  • It would be fun to watch your logic fail in a real back and forth. PS, the ones who voted them in, are doing the jobs the people wanted, stop Obama. So when you tell them to do their job, funny thing is they ARE.
  • In some of your downtime this holiday weekend, just for giggles, search "vacation time comparison US presidents". Spoiler alert. Those who took the most are all Republican and W is the record holder by far. I couldn't find anything on Obama being an Emperor though.
  • His own ranch counts as a vacation in those comparisons. Big difference between that and traveling the world at the cost of millions of dollars. Does Bo the dog really need his own helicopter ride?
  • My oh my. Aren't you the gullible one! Here's another thing you can do this weekend. Add up all the costs of Obama's vacations and divide it into the $6 trillion in costs of the unecessary Iraq and Afghanistan wars, $955 billion for tax cuts for the wealthy, $500+ billion for the Medicare Modernization Act and Bush's taking a surplus economy and turning it into a $1 trillion debt and tell us what you come up with and then make your point again. Go ahead. We're waiting!
  • America's many #Firstworldproblems. Way to go legislative branch... /s
  • I wasn't even aware this was an issue
  • +1520
  • they should just print a qr code (like 1inch by 1inch box) instead of having to turn the gadget on first Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • QR codes are ugly though...
  • I'd rather have texts and numbers on my stuff than QR codes.
  • I like the labels on electronics.. It gives them that official, safe look... I think they look cool on phones as well.. It's kinda what made the iPhone have that quality look all these years.. Just a touch..
  • I agree actually haha
  • My 16 month old 928 still has its sticker on, its under cover :)
  • Actually, the 925 is a good example.. It has those markings on it, if I'm not mistaken. The 1020 also.. It looks cool!
  • Show us a picture, please ...
  • I've never had a problem with this. Definitely a first world problem like mentioned above.
  • It's about time....I am tired of these big ugly Dell, Samsung etc labels.
  • I'm pretty sure this applies to the government mandated labels (FCC, etc) not the big ugly logos and stuff the manufacturers want to put on.
  • But I like the Dell logo
  • Great job. Who cares that the wars are eternal, our cities are infested with crime and poverty, the economy is in the crapper, and government and business are corrupt at all levels, we have solved a problem nobody cared about or even knew existed.
  • Speak for your own shitbox country...
  • How did Nokia get away with no labels on the 920... Unless it was on the inside?
  • They put it in the sim card drawer. Very clever. They wanted to free the phone of markings that would ruin the aesthetics.
  • Really clever!
  • 928 is also clear, just has removable sticker. As kesken noted its (additionally) on simcard drawer
  • There's a metal plate hidden beneath the SIM tray slot. Very nice.
  • I don't think they are talking about model #s more than likely those big arse tags that have processor, HDD size, graphics and all the other crap on laptops and desktops
  • I think you're right. I have an Energystar, NVIDIA, Intel Core i7 and HDMI sticker on my ASUS laptop.
  • This should be called the Verizon law
  • Lol
  • Only if we had more important things going on in the world >_>
  • OK but how about those stupid ass baked on ones from the FCC and other useless government agencies, I guess it only applies to companies...as always bullshit meaningless laws by the government?!
  • I actually like them, they look like ranks to me, and its really hard to spot them
  • Exactly! The stickers advertise as well gives a status symbol which definitely is something we love.
  • but i like my labels ;_;7
  • I'm surprised anything becomes law nowadays
  • God save us to have to endure a horrible despicable label on the back of our (insert gadget name here)!!!
  • But I like those safety labels under my Nokia 1020.. It looks more of a tattoo on my phone
  • Yeah!!! It looks awesome on the 1020, and iPhones do it well too.
  • I like how people are turning an article about phone labels into a political statement... Ugh.
  • Dude, the first two words of the article are "president" and then "Obama". Lol....
    This article is talking strictly about the political side of this kind of labeling.
  • This is insane...
  • The real question is: How will you tell iDevices apart from each other?
  • From the size? The bigger it is, the less useful it becomes
  • That's dumb... Considering my 1520 is the most useful WP device that exists..
  • He said i-devices, moron. Go eat gravel.
  • In response to "TheFarrango" who is clearly taking a shot at phablets...
    .......
    I know what he said, so mind your own little business, forest.
  • The Lumia 930 has some really nasty labels engraved at the bottom, next to the USB port.
  • Thanks Obama!
  • Good thing your US Lawmakers are tackling the important issues and not something entirely unimportant like net neutrality or the NSA overreach.
  • Net neutrality = moron, moron.
  • *the issue of preserving net neutrality
    There, better?
  • Won't help me I'm in Canada
  • It's not supposed to... These are US federal labeling guidelines only... Your country has their own type... And, they are talking about OEM labeling like "Samsung", or "Motorola" printed on devices..
  • Nice
  • I'm so glad president Obama is all caught up with labels on devices instead some......maybe.......important shit like the economy, Isis and other non issues that affect everyone in the world. Awesome.
  • Boy, were they productive yesterday - pardoning turkeys AND getting rid of labels. I bet all the other countries are super jealous.
  • This is kind of a nonissue. But since im here plese get rid of the John Lennon and Yoko Ono photo. Sick of looking at that every time i scroll down.