Good Intentions Leading to Unintended Consequences II – Regulations & Pipe Dreams

From the RoHS / WEEE News Releases & Information site, I found the story “New Regulations Loom Large in 2006”, from InfoWorld, http://www.infoworld.com/article/05/12/29/01NNcompliance_1.html?source=rss&url=http://www.infoworld.com/article/05/12/29/01NNcompliance_1.html. The story is dated December 29. It talks about the following areas that will likely have new or increased regulations in 2006:

  • Publicly traded companies will see increased coverage of Sarbanes-Oxley.
  • There will likely be a privacy bill passed. There are already bills pending in the legislative houses in Washington, D.C., and some include the requirement that every citizen be able to know how their personal information is being used.
  • Data retention rules may be added or changed in Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, relating to how companies in litigation archive electronic communication and what happens if they can’t come up with requested electronic documents.
  • REACH is another European directive, regarding the use of about 30,000 different chemicals in industry. REACH stands for “Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals”.
  • RoHS is my favorite European regulation to gripe about (although it looks like REACH may be even uglier), and the article mentions that RoHS is supposed to go into full force on July 1, 2006.
  • FALCPA is a U.S. requirement that food manufacturers have plain English descriptions on food labels of any potential food allergens. FALCPA stands for Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act.

What is striking is that many of these regulations, in particular RoHS, REACH, and the privacy bills, include requirements for a level of tracking that currently doesn’t exist in many of today’s computer systems, and a level of openness about business practices and product formulations that runs almost counter to standard business practice for most companies.

Sometimes regulations are needed, but it’d sure be nice if the regulation writers checked to see if what they ask for is actually possible.

On a side note, there was also interesting story mentioned on the RoHS/WEEE site about IPC 1752. But the story was in Manufacturing Business Technology, and anytime a magazine insists that it needs to know your company’s annual revenue as part of its registration process, I am a bit leery.

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