More so than the US, it’s EU’s regulators really who have taken a tougher stance against tech companies. EU Lawmakers over the years have passed sweeping policies to protect consumers and their data, for example with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) introduced in 2018. Recently, the European commission proposed another set of regulations, now aimed at smartphone companies, to deal with issues like forced obsolescence, along with environmental concerns.
EU lawmakers in the past have laid out proposals and regulations, championing the right to repair. These sets of initiates were part of the commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan, which places a lot of focus on reusing and recycling and moving towards a greener economy. The Inception Impact Assessment report recently released by the commission further talks about ways to extend the lifecycle of smartphones and tablets.
Inception Impact Assessments aim to inform citizens and stakeholders about the Commission’s plans in order to allow them to provide feedback on the intended initiative and to participate effectively in future consultation activities. Citizens and stakeholders are in particular invited to provide views on the Commission’s understanding of the problem and possible
solutions and to make available any relevant information that they may have, including on possible impacts of the different
Reuse, Recycle and More!
The primary objective of the new regulations would be, to ensure the proper functionality of a device over its lifecycle. It would also aim to tackle the extra e-waste at an average household which can easily be recycled for important materials.
The energy consumption of the product and any of the other declared parameters
shall not deteriorate after an operating system software update or a firmware update
when measured with the same test standard originally used for the declaration of
conformity, except with the explicit consent of the end-user prior to the update. No
performance change shall occur as a result of rejecting the update, except for third-
party application software.
According to the regulation draft, smartphone companies shouldn’t spoof benchmark tests, and ensure the phone’s performance stays intact even after software updates. Moreover the draft also infers that extending the lifespan of a smartphone from the current 2-3 years to 5 years would be equivalent to taking 5 million cars off the road.
It even suggests that OS updates should be available on a phone within 2 months of its public release. Which probably means that manufacturers should ideally bring new iOS or Android updates to their smartphones within 2 months of it’s official launch.
Taking a page from the right to repair regulations, the report also asks smartphone manufacturers to ensure easy access to spare parts for at least five years from the date of discontinuation. That’s not all, European Union members even agreed on new regulations earlier this year, to ensure all devices are on the USB Type-C standard by 2024.
You can read more on the recently proposed regulations here.