US Senators Advocate for Common Charger Law

Posted on June 17, 2022 by Laurent Giret in Hardware, Mobile with 45 Comments

A group of high-profile US senators is urging the US Commerce Department to follow the EU’s footsteps and adopt a common charger law. EU regulators recently succeeded in making USB-C the standard charging port on all phones sold in Europe starting in 2024, which should make life easier for consumers and also reduce electronic waste.

As reported by The Verge, senators Edward J. Markey, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders sent a letter yesterday to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to ask the Department of Commerce “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 three senators emphasized in the letter that having a common charger would not only be beneficial for the environment, it would also help consumers to save money. “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.”

In the conclusion of the letter, the senators urge the Secretary of Commerce “to coordinate with offices and agencies across the Department of Commerce to develop a comprehensive plan that will protect both consumers and the environment by addressing the lack of a common U.S. charging standard.”

These are pretty strong words from the three US senators, who lauded the EU’s forward-thinking approach throughout the letter. While there could be some pushback from tech giants, a common charger seems inevitable at this point and even Apple is getting ready to leave its proprietary Lightning port behind. The next entry-level iPad coming later this fall is expected to adopt a USB-C port, and the first USB-C iPhones may be released as soon as next year.

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Comments (45)

45 responses to “US Senators Advocate for Common Charger Law”

  1. mikegalos

    Essentially a meaningless law designed to give credit to its authors since, in reality, once the EU regulation takes effect nobody will be making separate EU/Non-EU versions so they will all de facto be in compliance with this law regardless.


    • rm

      Sorry, but I disagree. A different port on a phone is not a huge differance. They can easily make a European version of a phone and keep the walled garden in effect for the rest of the world. Especially since the US and the rest of the world is a big percent of the sales of iOS devices.

  2. wshwe

    I am completely in favor of this switch. In the beginning a massive amount of e-waste will be generated due to everyone throwing away their Lightening cables as they upgrade their iPhones. The only reason Apple has not switched to USB-C is the royalties. In the long run, people won’t have to toss their cables when they switch from Android to iPhone and vice versa.

    • Stabitha.Christie

      I don't think I understand your post. Why were people throwing away their existing lightening cables when they upgraded iPhones? I have upgraded several times and never thew away my cables when I did. I kept them and continued to use them.

      • ralfred

        The powt talks about the future. If your new iPhone has USB-C, then why would you keep your old lighting cable if you can’t use it anymore?

        • SvenJ

          I would still use my lightning cable on my Airpods, Pro and Max, and my older iPhones and iPads. These things actually last, with Apple providing 6 years of support. I think some may underestimate the number of folks throwing out mini and micro USB cables when they upgrade their phones. Most all of those have the cable wired to the wall wart in addition, making the waste even greater. When the EU came up with this USB-C thought, 60% of the people there were not using lightning or USB-C. Thankfully the EU didn't insist on mandating what was most prevalent at the time.

          • wright_is

            Good, but when you have replaced all of your old Apple devices for ones with USB-C ports... That is the point.


            But the point being, in the future, a mixture of Sonos, Sony, Bose, Apple, Google, HP etc. kit in the house, you will only need a couple of chargers and USB-C cables to keep them all going.


            At present, we have iPads (USB-C), laptops (USB-C), Samsung headphones (USB-C), Samsung Galaxy S phone, iPhones (Lightning), AirPods (Lightning), Apple Watch (custom dongle). (Plus Logitech mice, microUSB). We have 4 USB-C chargers in the house, 1 with a USB-C Lightning cable, 1 with USB-C, a 4-way charger, with USB-C, Lightning, Watch dongle and a microUSB cable stuck into it (65W, so can charge 4 mobile devices or my laptop), and a USB-C docking station, which will charge and of the USB-C devices, if needed.


            Once I replace the microUSB mice and the iPhones with USB-C versions, I will only have to have one set of cables laying around and they will all use the same, univeral chargers. The devices don't come with additional chargers, because they don't need to, because most people will already have at least 1 USB-C charger and cable.

      • Donte

        Is your lightning cable going to work on your new USB-C iPhone?


        It will create a ton of e-waste but it will be worth it.

    • William Clark

      Not only lightning cables, but what about all those micro USB devices? It's not just Apple, I have a ton of devices like portable speakers, bluetooth headsets, NC headphones for travel and much more that don't use USB C. I see no real benefit to this. You'll still have cables for every device you buy, they may all be USB C but it won't reduce the number of cables because you'll likely want to charge all your devices overnight and you'll need cables for all of them.


      In fact, if you want to reduce waste, why not go wireless charging for phones? No cables needed.

  3. Truffles

    Plot twist: US mandates a standard that's incompatible with the EU standard.

    • andyhi

      You forget it’s Bernie and Pocahontas… they can’t come up with anything original and will end up following the EU’s lead regardless of the unintended consequences.

  4. Daekar

    I wouldn't trust that trio to babysit a plastic cactus for a day, let alone understand anything about technology.


    Having the EU legislation is quite enough. Unless the US law is literally a copy and paste, we would be setting ourselves up for major compliance headaches, not to mention more than doubling the legislative overhead for any future progress.

    Government control of everything is not the solution that many seem to think it is these days.

  5. yaddamaster

    it seems to me that this is a bureaucratic and legislative overreach. I'm somewhat ok with a law establishing and funding an industry standards board (or encourging something like that). But government should not be the business of dictating the solutions.


  6. hlbuck

    I'm cackling thinking about how Apple will introduce USB-C iPhones like it's the most magnanimous thing they've ever done. "For years, we've offered USB-C on our MacBooks and iPads, and now we're going to be the first technology company to unify our charging standards under USB-C, which we didn't hold out on adopting for an unreasonable 5+ years, in fact we actually invented it..."

  7. nbplopes

    To those that say governments should not legislate technology what they actually mean is … technology that “I” create.


    Because since there is technology it has been legislated. Cars, Planes, Trucks, Medication, Housing, Guns, Lawn Mowers … so on and so forth.

    • William Clark

      True, these things are "legislated", however, the never legislated that all cars have to use the same engine or tires or headlights. They didn't even mandate that the fuel doors be on the same side in every car.


      I see this as being mildly beneficial, but not that much. I just put in USB wall plugs in my house. All USB A, it's the most common standard and for charging purposes at home, it's more than fine. Now, I'll have to buy USB A to USB C cables for all my new gear. LOL

      • Donte

        "They didn't even mandate that the fuel doors be on the same side in every car."


        They did mandate fuel nozzles/holes. Leaded, unleaded and Diesel.


        They should do the same for EV's and electronic devices.

    • wright_is

      Exactly, and to give the EU its dues, it does try and do it with a light hand. The manufacturers had well over a decade to get their house in order, and didn't. They were told around 2010 to sort things out or face legislation. They failed (most went with micro-USB back then, but a few, like Apple, didn't), then most switched to USB-C, but a few, like Apple, didn't. Now they have blown their chance of sorting it out themselves, they are facing legislation.


      The US Government jumping on the band is a bit of me-tooism, along with looking like they are doing something for domestic voters that don't follow the tech news.


      Given how much effort and money goes into the new products, it isn't economical to keep, for example, a Lightning version and a USB-C version on the market. Oh, it is doable, but it doesn't make sense, from a manufacturing point of view.

      • andyhi

        Will be happy to see more push to USB-C in the short term but this regulation is short sighted. It will have unintended consequences of locking everyone into a USB-C (wired) connections effectively forever.

  8. swaschitz

    This seems like a BS problem that doesn't really need solving anymore. At one point this was an actual problem, but everyone sat on this so long it doesn't matter. You can see that Apple has been moving steadily toward USB-C because of the EU most likely. But unless you're a person that jumps from platform to platform, your prior charger WAS working with your newer phone. Lightning was introduced in 2012 -- TEN YEARS AGO. Apple *HAS* been consistent. Now, on the Micro/Mini USB, still there are only the two standards. Companies haven't been interchangeably flipping between them. Most people do not jump phone brands/platforms as they did in the very early days when everyone had a proprietary connector. The US Government should find an actual problem to solve. And even if we think this was still an actual problem (which it was 8-10 years ago), the EU already did their thing. This is likely just congressional glad-handing now.

  9. patmcq

    Mandate Wireless Charging for everything... That would be great for the landfills?!

    • andyhi

      Yeah, thats where we’re headed with mandates like this. The exception for the EU rules that require USB-C Is for connector-less (wireless) devices. It’s a known fact that the extra heat from wireless charging shortens the lifespan of Lithium battery packs… yay more landfill and quicker churn on battery powered electronics.

  10. lvthunder

    Just what we need. Those three deciding which tech goes into our products is pretty scary.

    • rm

      I like the standardization by having the same charges and cables and less waste. I just don't know about long term improvements to the standard. I am hopeful the need of consumers continually wanting more data faster will keep the standard improving, but I am not sure it will. However, in 5 to 10 years wireless capabilities might replace USB anyway.

  11. pbeiler1

    It is a bad idea to legislate technology. Governments move too slowly to keep up with technical innovation.

    • angusmatheson

      I totally agree, what I’d they have mandates mini USB universal? Once usb C is the legally mandated common charger we will never see a newer better charger. Because no one will ever change these laws.

  12. ron f

    Although I would be happy to Apple replace lightning with USB-C, I remember when Lightning was introduced and was far superior to the micro-USB were using at the time. Standardization such as this makes it more difficult to introduce innovations.

    • red.radar

      One could say… if it want for lightning you wouldn’t have usb-c today.

      • rm

        Given that USB was first released in 1996 and Lightning not until 2012. I think USB was headed in that direction anyway. It might have taken them longer without the competition.

  13. red.radar

    Love this statement: “restore sanity and certainty to the process of purchasing new electronics.”


    What does that mean? So there is uncertainty when purchasing electronic devices? So they do not show up when ordered? The information about the device is not published in the listing ? How does usb-c solve a logistics and disclosure issue?


    I hate political speech it only conveys crisis but lacks information or clarity it what they are trying to accomplish……maybe usb-c can solve that

  14. ronv42

    Government designed standards...that means a 50 cent part now becomes $500 dollars.

    • rm

      The USB standards are not developed or designed by the government.

      • red.radar

        Correct. Government doesn’t release the standards. But the USB standards organization didn’t even have USB-C on the radar when Apple dropped lightning in 2012. The Design spec wasn’t released until 2 years later in 2014. Apple caught the market flatfooted with the idea of a reversible cable. My theory is that they were focusing in on the EU wanting to standardize micro usb. Which was dumb because there wasn’t enough conductors in the Micro-usb spec to support the data rates needed for 3.0. So you got the hideous wide style micro usb. The innovation of that connector was the 2.0 version could be plugged into a 3.0 port and the device would just revert 480Mbit transfer rate. Apple comes around and says uh…no. Let’s just make a radically different connector to support higher data rates, audio/video functionality and reversibility. Cellphone device makers realized the dumbness of the 3.0 micro connector and pushed the usb committee to respond to Apple’s innovation. This set the EU back 10 years.



  15. DataMeister

    Considering how readily Apple likes to abandon old technology and adopt something new, it is pretty weird that they haven't abandoned their lightning connector on phones already in favor of standardizing across their product line with the USB-C connector.

    • red.radar

      It is because Apple made a public commitment to support the lightning connector for 10 years. That commitment is up this year. They were worried about massive backlash from abandoning the 30 pin connector from the iPod and wanted to assure customers that they wouldn’t have to buy accessories every other phone generation. I think it was a key differentiator at the time from Android handsets and Lightning was a very modern connector 10 years ago. The reversibility concept was years ahead of type-c.


      Remember USB body was content with tacking conductors to the side and that is why we got the hideous wide styleMicro-USB connector for 3.0 data rates. I still have hard drives with that horrible thing. The standards organization was committed to supporting Micro-USB forever and EU was looking then to make it the standard connector which is why they went with the micro usb connector inlaid to the 3.0 style. But Apple dropped lightning and the world forever changed. 2 years later Type-C was released as a response to the compact and reversible design that also could do Audio/Video. Designs didn’t start to proliferate till 2016. So lightning was nearly 4 years ahead of Type - C on the market.


      I think we owe Apple a thank you for the innovation of the type -c connector.


      • digiguy

        oh man, the 10 years commitment is such bs only a big fanboy could believe... Apple switched from lightning to USB C with iPad pro in 2018 already, increasing the price. They haven't done it with iPhone because volumes are much larger and so are royalties... We owe Apple a thank you... LOL

        • SvenJ

          If you think Apples revenue stream is dependent on lightning licensing, you haven't a clue on where their money comes from. They do have a vested interest in not ticking off legions of users and 3rd party manufacturers who are selling products dependent on that connector. Waiting until it is both 'inevitable', the iPhone being the last major device using it, and mandated by short sighted bureaucrats is the way to do this.

          • digiguy

            Sure, that's why they waited till the end with the iPad pro and air... And who said that they are dependent, but why let it go when you can have it too... But again Apple fans will always think Apple does things in the best interest of their clients (be it iPhone users or 3rd party manufactures, who would have been more than happy to move earlier to USB C and stop paying royalties)

            • William Clark

              Really? Because there is a ton of devices out there still using micro/mini USB. I don't see those guys jumping on the USB C bandwagon and they've had plenty of time to do so.

              • digiguy

                The reason is exactly the same: cost. These manufactures are cheap guys who would do anything to save a buck. And microusb is cheaper than USB C. Lightning instead is more expensive than USB C due to royalties. Hopefully both will die soon.

                • William Clark

                  I had a little bit of a hard time comparing, but it appears that USB C, in some ways, is more expensive than Lightning. There seems to be a $3500 usage fee for USB C where Lightning seems to be covered under the MFi program which is $99, according to some web sites. There is the cost of the connector and Lightning looks to be more expensive there, but I can't claim to know for sure.

  16. Rob_Wade

    Of all the moronic wastes of time....we need term limits. Being an elected official was never meant to be a full-time positions, much less a career.

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