Three Democratic US senators are calling on the White House to follow the EU’s example 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.) sent a letter(Opens in a new window) to US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, urging her to develop a plan that addresses the lack of a universal charging method for today’s products.
“We write regarding the economic and environmental harm inflicted by the consumer electronics industry’s failure to establish uniform charging accessory standards—a shortcoming that requires consumers to frequently change their charging accessories,” the senators wrote.
The letter says the US should look to the EU’s recent agreement to require electronics vendors to adopt USB-C as a common charging method for smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and cameras by fall 2024.
“We urge you to follow the EU’s lead by developing a comprehensive strategy to address unnecessary consumer costs, mitigate e-waste, and restore sanity and certainty to the process of purchasing new electronics,” the senators added.
The senators themselves didn’t mention the USB-C charging method. Instead, their main complaint focuses on proprietary “specialized charging equipment and accessories” for new electronic devices.
“This is not merely an annoyance; it can be a financial burden,” the senators wrote, adding: “Innovation should benefit consumers. It should not come at their expense, saddle them with incompatible accessories, and compel them to purchase different charging equipment for each device they own.”
Recommended by Our Editors
Although not named in the letter, it’s clear enforcing a common charging method would affect Apple, which has long used its proprietary Lightning port on iPhones and iPads. But in its defense, Cupertino has previously said that requiring it to adopt 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 adopt USB-C for iPhones in Europe by 2024 when it comes to wired-based charging. In their letter, the Democratic senators added: “The EU has wisely acted in the public interest by taking on powerful technology companies over this consumer and environmental issue. The United States should do the same.”
The US Commerce Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Get Our Best Stories!
Sign up for What’s New Now to get our top stories delivered to your inbox every morning.