Most electronic controls such as electronic timers, photo sensors, motion sensors, touch lamps, and remote light controls are designed to work with the simple technology of an incandescent rather than the complex circuitry of a CFL. Electronic controls draw a small amount of electricity to operate that would concurrently run a small amount of electricity through the CFL ballast, placing stress on the electronics. Since CFL ballasts are designed for a specific input voltage and are not designed to handle deviations, imposing them can cause the circuitry to malfunction or not be able to effectively light the lamp or keep the current through the lamp well regulated. The result is that operating CFLs on controls can significantly shorten the lifespan of the product, though it should not pose a fire hazard.
It is possible for electronic controls to be designed to work with fluorescent technology, so check with the manufacturer of the electronic control device for compatibility.
Note that CFLs can be used with mechanical timers (those that do not use electricity to operate) without adversely affecting the performance.Dimmer switches can also cause problems in CFLs for similar reason. However, there are CFLs specially designed to work on dimmer switches, see FAQ # 2565: Can ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs be used with dimmer switches?