A group of Senate Democrats are calling on the US Commerce Department to follow Europe’s lead by forcing all smartphone makers to build devices that adhere to a universal charging standard.
In a letter Thursday to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) — along with the senses. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) – demanded that the department develop a strategy to require a common charging port on all mobile devices.
The letter comes a week after European Union lawmakers reached agreement on new legislation requiring all smartphones and tablets to have USB-C ports by fall 2024.
“The EU acted wisely in the public interest by taking on powerful tech companies on this consumer and environmental issue,” the senators wrote. “The United States should do the same.”
In the letter, the senators say proprietary chargers, like Apple’s Lightning ports, create unnecessary amounts of electronic waste and impose financial burdens on consumers who upgrade their devices or who own multiple devices from different manufacturers.
“Year after year, Americans are piling our outdated chargers into landfills while we shell out more money to tech companies to buy new ones,” Markey said in a statement. The edge Thursday. “This waste is driving consumers up the wall and pushing our planet deeper into a climate crisis. I ask the Department of Commerce to follow the example of the European Union and seek solutions so that we can save our money, our sanity and our planet.
Unlike European law, the senators are not asking the Commerce Department to codify USB-C as a universal charging standard. On the contrary, their request for the creation of a “comprehensive strategy” is broader, leaving the ministry the possibility of developing its own standard. Following the EU mandate, critics argued the rule would stifle innovation and prevent smartphone makers from advancing faster charging standards in the future.
When asked if senators expected a pullback from the tech industry, a spokesperson for Markey said The edge“Big Tech is allergic to regulation, and we are already seeing companies push back on EU action. Senator Markey thinks we need to continue to stand up to this industry to make sure its interests don’t get to the detriment of the well-being of the environment and consumers.