On 30 March 2022, the European Commission published a proposal for a directive empowering consumers for the green transition, which is is designed to enhancing consumer rights in making informed choices in order to play an active role in the transition to a climate-neutral society. At the moment, the proposal is being discussed by the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection of the European Parliament.
PI welcomes the aim of the proposal to enhance consumer rights, particularly by ensuring that consumers obtain reliable and useful information on products, including on their lifespan. Nevertheless, we note that the proposal contains certain shortcomings with regard to information on software support duration and the bundling of security with functionality or any other software updates. It is crucial that these are effectively addressed by the European Parliament through the introduction of specific amendments to ensure that the aim of the Directive is
not undermined, and that consumers’ devices and data remain secure in our connected world.
Software updates in connected consumer devices, if carried out effectively and transparently, can be a major contributor to the green economy as well as vitally important for people’s privacy and security. Software keeps our devices secure, functional, and protected against known security vulnerabilities. However, strong risks to security are enabled by software support periods that are shorter than a product’s usable life cycle, and an industry focused on selling its new products; this is a common practice and contributes to the growing electronic waste and damage to our environment. As our research demonstrates, it is also often very difficult, or impossible, for consumers to know precisely how long software on their digital products will be supported. This is one of the main problems encountered by EU consumers when purchasing a connected product.
Therefore, we ask that the draft Directive is improved with amendments to ensure that current business practices do not result in serious harms for consumers or negatively impact devices’ sustainability.
We have two major recommendations, with a few related suggested amendments to the relevant articles:
- Consumers should be provided with clear information about how long their devices will be supported with security and software updates;
- Information on security updates should be decoupled from information on functionality updates and should be provided by producers too.
The attached briefing outlines these amendments and their rationale in detail.