Democratic senators push for common charging method for mobile devices

Three Democratic US senators are calling on the White House to follow the EU’s lead and push the tech industry to adopt a single charging method for mobile devices.

On Thursday, Sens. Ed Markey (D-Ma.), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma.) a letter(Opens in a new window) to US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, urging her to develop a plan that addresses the lack of a universal charging method for today’s products.

“We are writing about the economic and environmental damage caused by the consumer electronics industry’s failure to establish uniform standards for charging accessories — a flaw that forces consumers to replace their charging accessories regularly,” the senators wrote.

The letter states that the US should look at the recent agreement to require electronics sellers to adopt USB-C as a common charging method for smartphones, tablets, e-readers and cameras in the fall of 2024.

“We urge you to follow the EU’s lead by developing a comprehensive strategy to tackle, mitigate unnecessary consumer costs e-wasteand restoring sanity and certainty in the purchasing process of new electronics,” the senator added.

The senators themselves did not mention the USB-C charging method. Instead, their main complaint focuses on patented “specialized charging equipment and accessories” for new electronic devices.

“This is not just an annoyance; it can be a financial burden,” the senators wrote, adding: “Innovation should benefit consumers. It should not be at the expense of them, burdening them with incompatible accessories and forcing them to purchase different charging equipment for every device they own.”

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While it’s not mentioned in the letter, it’s clear that enforcing a common charging method would affect Apple, which has long used its own Lightning port on iPhones and iPads. But in defense Cupertino has earlier said that being required to use USB-C would force Apple customers everywhere to buy additional accessories, generating more e-waste.

Still, it looks like Apple will have no choice but to use USB-C for iPhones in Europe by 2024 when it comes to wired charging. In their letter, Democratic senators added: “The EU has wisely acted in the public interest by tackling powerful tech companies over this consumer and environmental issue. The United States should do the same.”

The US Department of Commerce did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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