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EU: Consumer lasers to be restricted to Class 2 (1 mW) maximum within 24 months

On February 5 2014, the European Union issued a “decision ... on the safety requirements to be met by European standards for consumer laser products." The decision will severely restrict or ban European consumer access to Class 3R, 3B and 4 lasers. For lasers emitting visible beams, this would restrict or ban consumer laser products with an output 1 milliwatt or greater.

(For reference, the full title of the 5 Feb 2014 document is 2014/59/EU: Commission Decision of 5 February 2014 on the safety requirements to be met by European standards for consumer laser products pursuant to Directive 2001/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on general product safety Text with EEA relevance. The document is online here.)

Timeframe and who is affected

The EU decision does not appear to directly affect laser product sales or access at this time (early 2014). Instead, it applies to European safety standards "pursuant to Directive 2001/95/EC”, the General Product Safety Directive. These standards would need to be updated to conform with the 5 Feb 2014 EC decision. The expected time is about 24 months.

A member of the IEC Technical Committee 76, the group which sets laser equipment safety standards, told LaserPointerSafety.com that "the standardization organizations are about to be requested to produce a new standard or amend an existing one, implementing/specifying such new requirements. The deadline for an amended or new standard seems to be within 24 months…. For now, it seems that the General Product Safety Directive, the Low Voltage Directive, and the Radio & Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive are the targeted ones.”

Once one or more standards are updated to meet the requirements of the 5 Feb 2014 EU decision, the new requirements would then be legally enforceable in the European Union.
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US: "SkyTag Green Laser Aircraft Tracker" gag product

Internet retailer ThinkGeek is advertising a laser aircraft tracker called SkyTag. This April Fool’s page has a bogus description of the gag product.


According to ThinkGeek, SkyTag comes with software that finds aircraft through online tracking websites. A built-in GPS orients SkyTag so it knows its own location. It can then identify aircraft “that are at the appropriate altitude for your green laser.”

Excerpts from the description:

  • “Stop worrying about things like mandatory jail time and social isolation and play the intriguing game of SkyTag today.”
  • “Successful back-to-back tags might even earn you a complimentary visit from your local FBI office!”
  • “Arrives with a voucher you can redeem to get 5% off your first fine of $25,000 or greater!”

A note states “Is this product legal? … CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO!” This leads to a file-not-found page (Error 404), as does clicking the “Add to Cart” button.

From ThinkGeek. Thanks to Frank Chaves, U.S. DHS, for bringing this to our attention. A list with SkyTag along with other ThinkGeek April Fool’s day products, such as the USB Pet Rock, is here.