BFAAM, ESA Oppose New Set of Regulations for IP-Enabled Security Systems

DETROIT — Two bills that would create specific licensing requirements for IP-enabled security systems in Michigan have been staunchly opposed by the Burglar and Fire Alarm Association of Michigan (BFAAM) and the Electronic Security Association (ESA). The associations maintain that the legislation will help telephone companies enter into the state’s electronic security sector, while creating a burden on existing security providers.

Sponsored by Sen. Dave Hildenbrand (R-Mich.), Senate bills 1291 and 1292 “would provide for regulation of a new product on the market that allows any Web access device to be used to remotely control security and other devices in a home or business,” according to the Michigan Municipal League.

However, the legislation would circumvent existing statutes currently followed by electronic security providers, according to BFAAM and ESA. Both groups maintain that if approved, the legislation would:

  • Create a new licensing structure with a definition of a security system as “IP-enabled,” primarily because it sends signals via the Internet. (The associations state that nearly all security systems in use today are IP-enabled, therefore no new classification is necessary.)
  • Require many current providers to obtain two licenses — one under the existing statute and a second one under the new classifications — and follow a redundant and often contradictory new set of regulations.
  • Allow new entrants into the industry to sidestep existing requirements for criminal background checks.

Introduced Sept. 19, the state Senate approved the bills Sept. 27, which moved immediately for introduction in the House. Members of both BFAAM and ESA were dismayed at how quickly the Senate approved the bills without hearing any feedback from affected businesses or citizens.

ESA President John Knox issued a letter to several influential state legislators, stressing the industry’s reasons for opposing the legislation. Knox also mentioned that one of the bills’ strongest advocates, AT&T, had much to gain for the legislation’s approval, as the company is moving strongly into the electronic security market.

In his letter, Knox urged legislators not to “carve out” a special class of licensing provisions for telephone companies hoping to become active in the industry. Rather, telcos should stick to existing licensing statutes, alongside the 400 BFAAM businesses that currently comply with the provisions.

“Proponents of the bill should instead update the definitions of a security alarm company or system contained in the present statuses, rather than creating a new and burdensome licensing scheme,” Knox stated.

BFAAM President Dean Belisle has also voiced his concerns of what would happen if the legislation receives approval.

“What we found is that one telephone company, AT&T, seems to want to offer services to citizens in the state without federal or state background checks, unregulated, unchecked and unsupervised,” he says. “That will eliminate our professional competency requirements now in the law. This is unacceptable going forward as some telecommunications companies, such as Comcast, have gone through state licensing requirement in Michigan. If they can do it, why can’t AT&T?”

Meanwhile the Telecommunications Association of Michigan’s (TAM) has voiced support for the legislation on its Facebook page stating that the bills will “simplify all the regulations instead of complicating things.” A Sept. 27 post further stated that “the goal [of the bills] is to give consumers more choices in home security services by establishing a new regulatory structure.”

The House will review the bill after the November election.

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