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The US bill to phase out wonky symbols on the back of gadgets is now a law

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The legislation designed to do away with printing various symbols and regulatory compliance numbers on our gadgets in favor of displaying those things within software has been signed into law. President Obama today signed the E-Label Act, which was introduced by senators Deb Fisher (R-NE) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) in July, and quickly made its way through both the House and Senate this fall. It allows manufacturers to put things like FCC symbols, ID numbers, and other labeling in a software menu, instead of physically printed or labeled on a device.

The bill's authors argue that the change could make electronics easier and less expensive to produce. They also say it will become exceedingly useful on smaller gadgets like smartwatches, where space comes at a premium. Still, the change doesn't mean certain gadgets can go out into the world naked. Some regions require designations — like Europe's "CE" mark — if they are to be sold there, though it depends on what the gadget is. The need for the labeling on US devices was originally introduced in 1973, some 39 years after the FCC was created, and nearly a decade before the first handheld cell phone went on sale.