EU Circular Economy "right to repair" might include software updates

Analysts and manufacturers love citing smartphone sales and shipment figures but the unspoken implication is that the number of devices out in the wild is rapidly increasing. Not all of those devices are actually in use, which suggests that the number of devices, parts, and accessories that are being thrown out is also rapidly increasing. The European Union has been striving to curb that e-waste, leading to the controversial "USB-C only" proposal, and its latest proposal could ruffle the feathers of some manufacturers in terms of opening up their phones for extended support.

The proposals are part of the region's new Circular Economy Action Plan, an initiative that is pushing for sustainability across multiple industries and sectors. Naturally, one of those is the electronics and ICT industry and its goal is to prolong product lifetimes, which itself might already be contrary to companies' wishes, with some "right to repair" rules, another "bad word" for some manufacturers.

Granted, this isn't the same "right to repair" that is being pushed in the US, as XDA notes. The EU's version, as XDA notes, seems to be more focused on ensuring that companies supply sufficient components and replacement parts for professionals, not DIYers, to repair phones. It does also suggest the ability to upgrade components, one of the long-standing and still unfulfilled dreams of the modular phone idea.

Curiously, the Circular Economy Action Plan also tackles the issue of software updates to avoid premature obsolescence. In theory, this would at least enforce OEMs to ship phones in the region to be upgradable long after their support period expires. Meaning, they should have unlocked or unlockable bootloaders at the very least.

Right now, however, these are nothing but plans, with no legislation yet to back them up. That will be the next step and expect companies to fight tooth and nail not to be forced to go the extra mile to comply with that.