French bill targets "planned obsolescence"

Currently a "blind spot" in public policy, the Senators envisage "carrot" tax credits for sustainable companies alongside "stick" sanctions for planned product obsolescence

Faced with the growth of data centers, the French Senate bill includes a number of avenues to reduce the ecological cost of digital in France, starting with an eco-conscious renewal of smartphones, computers and other devices, the manufacture of which represents 70% of the national digital carbon footprint.

The Bill proposed by Senator Patrick Chaize, accompanied by Senator Guillaume Chevrollier and Senator Jean-Michel Houllegatte, aims to close the net on the practice of "planned obsolescence", a policy of making software and applications no longer supported by the operating system or hardware, thus encouraging consumers to ditch their otherwise well-functioning device for a newer model.

In 2015, France was already the first country in the world to ban planned obsolescence, leading to an unprecedented sanction against Apple of 25 million euros, for failing to inform consumers that updating their iPhone's operating system would slow down the device.

"When they couldn't go back to an older version of their operating system, a lot of consumers were forced to change their batteries and even buy a new phone."

Directorate general for competition, consumers and fraud control (DGCCRF)

To promote more eco-conscious usage, the bill proposes that websites of both government and big corporation should adhere to standards of sustainable development. It also aims to ban the automatic launch of videos, or flat-rates with unlimited Internet data on mobile devices.

Final axis of the senatorial proposals: raising awareness at the level of national education and in the corporate world. To encourage the equipment of SMEs with reconditioned equipment, the Senate envisages a "tax credit for sustainable digitization".