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[Draft] Regulation of Planned Obsolescence

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Zenkarra
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[Draft] Regulation of Planned Obsolescence

Postby Zenkarra » Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:46 pm

Regulation of Planned Obsolescence

Category: Regulation | Area of effect: Consumer Protection


The World Assembly,

Observing that many businesses utilize predatory practices to increase sales through intentional sabotage of their product after sale;

Recognizing that large percentages of consumer populations are unaware of this practice, even after planned sabotage has occurred;

Further recognizing that businesses utilizing these practices will often intentionally make it impossible for the consumer to prevent or solve in ways that do not continue to benefit the business, at the consumer's expense;

Concerned over the environmental impacts of large amounts of unnecessary consumer waste which does not break down for years, decades, or significantly longer;

Desiring to reduce this intentional sabotage, while informing consumers about its existence;

Hereby:

    1. Defines for the purpose of this resolution, “planned obsolescence” where all of the following criteria are true:

      a) A product which is designed and created, with the intent to be traded or sold.

      b) A product which is designed to have a limited functioning lifespan, or is designed to degrade in function over time, through mechanical faults, materials of insufficient strength, or self-sabotaging software.

      c) A product which is made unusually difficult or expensive to restore to functionality without the assistance of the company or individuals responsible for the product's design or creation, if it is meant to be possible to repair.

    2. Requires that all members of the World Assembly choose to enforce at least one of the following two solutions on all products which meet the definition of “planned obsolescence” as defined by this resolution:

      a) All products must have their intended lifespan clearly stated in a way that is made obvious to the purchaser. This must include a warning which states that it is intentionally limited. Warranties must be provided to guarantee that the product lasts for its entire lifespan as stated to the purchaser, or will be replaced without monetary cost to the purchaser in the event of failure.

      b) All products must have their production banned. Foreign imports of these products must also be banned, unless requirement 2a is applied to them instead.

    3. Furthermore requires that all products which meet the definition of “planned obsolescence” as defined by this resolution must not be made intentionally difficult or expensive to repair by purchasers.

    4. Exempts:

      a) Products which are considered as consumable items, as long as the company or individuals responsible for its creation do not intentionally obfuscate its status as a consumable.

      b) Products which are entirely bio-degradable, meaning that they will return to their base materials within a reasonably short period of time in nature, and do not break down into toxic substances.

      c) Products in which planned obsolescence does not impair the intended function of the product, as it was communicated to the purchaser.

      d) Warranty requirements, where a consumer has intentionally attempted to damage, modify, or repair a product, or has used the product outside of its intended purpose, where its purpose is clearly stated to the purchaser.


Regulation of Planned Obsolescence

Category: Regulation | Area of effect: Consumer Protection


A resolution which aims to place heavy restrictions on the act of the planned obsolescence of consumer products. The General Assembly hereby:

    1. Defines for the purpose of this resolution, “planned obsolescence” where all of the following criteria are true:

      a) A product which is designed and created, with the intent to be traded or sold.

      b) A product which is designed to have a limited functioning lifespan, or is designed to degrade in function over time, through mechanical faults, materials of insufficient strength, or software.

      c) A product which is made unusually difficult or expensive to restore to functionality without the assistance of the company or individuals responsible for the product's design or creation, if it is meant to be possible to repair.

    2. Requires that all members of the World Assembly choose to enforce at least one of the following two solutions:

      a) All products must have their intended lifespan clearly stated in a way that is made obvious to the purchaser. Warranties must be provided to guarantee that the product lasts for it's entire lifespan as stated to the purchaser, or will be replaced without monetary cost to the purchaser in the event of failure.

      b) All products which meet the definition of “planned obsolescence” as defined by this resolution, have their production banned. Foreign imports of these products must also be banned, unless requirement 2a is applied to them instead.

    3. Furthermore requires that all products which meet the definition of “planned obsolescence” as defined by this resolution must not be made intentionally difficult or expensive to repair by purchasers.

    4. Exempts:

      a) Products which are considered as consumable items, as long as the company or individuals responsible for its creation do not intentionally obfuscate its status as a consumable.

      b) Products which are entirely bio-degradable.

      c) Products in which planned obsolescence does not impair the intended function of the product, as communicated to the purchaser.

      d) Warranty requirements, where a consumer has intentionally attempted to damage, modify, or repair a product, or has used the product outside of it's intended purpose, where it's purpose is clearly stated to the purchaser.
Last edited by Zenkarra on Sun Aug 18, 2019 1:22 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Kenmoria
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Postby Kenmoria » Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:31 am

“This is an excellent proposal, in terms of the clarity of the clauses and the fact that the idea is unique. I recommend adding to it a preamble, as was done with almost all psssed resolutions, in order to tell people why to vote for this.”

(OOC: You may want some inspiration from passed resolutions.)
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Araraukar
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Postby Araraukar » Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:52 am

OOC post: In case you're not someone's undeclared puppet, welcome to the GA forum!

Did you by any chance work with Auralia on this? Because I know he was planning something similar. And by that I mean that your draft is a bit too good for a newbie writer's draft. If it's all your own work with no help from GAers, take that as a compliment! :D

So you obviously have a good grasp on what a resolution proposal should look like, but it is currently lacking on the reasoning of why such a matter as this needs international law to affect it. That isn't to say that it can't be an international issue, just that you're giving no reasons why it should be one. Such arguments are normally put before the active clauses (and separated with some version of "Hereby") and are called the preamble.

Now, from the start, the "A resolution which [does things]" thing is something the submission form includes automatically and depends on category (and possibly the AoE), it's not something you can write on your own. Or, well, you can, but it'll look silly.

Your definitions require all of them to be true for a product to count for the proposal, which raises the question of why? The definition b is usually what is meant by "planned obsolescence" in everyday speech. Adding the repair difficulties complicates the matter, because it's often impossible for the "layman" to repair something that requires expert skills and professional equipment. Take something as simple as an analogue watch. I certainly couldn't repair mine if it stopped, lacking a clocksmith's equipment and skill. (I don't know if my watch actually has a planned obsolescence date, I just know it came with a 30 year guarantee on functionality. Obviously unless I damage it somehow. Presumably that's how long the parts inside can resist normal wear and tear, given that they're actual moving mechanical parts.)

The repair issue becomes even more extreme when we're talking about something like smartphones (iPhones being an infamous example), especially since you're including software. Though that bit of the definition is a bit unclear; do you mean software actually stopping it from working after a given time, or, you know, the software just no longer being supported by the manufacturer? Because the latter can be difficult/impossible to predict (for your 2.a.).

Speaking of clause 2, warranties. I don't think you're going to find many products (at least not ones that weren't extreme luxury ones well beyond normal consumer's paying capabilities) in RL that had an actual lifetime warranty. Normally, when some product is advertized as having "lifetime warranty", what they mean is "how long it's predicted to work without any big problems". For a home appliance that might be as little as 5 years. 20 years likely being the maximum. Despite which the appliance might still be usable after 50 years.

So if you're actually requiring actual lifespan warranties, all you're really going to do is making manufacturers or re-sellers raise the prices well beyond regular consumer paygrade. That's really not going to help with either passing this through the WA-wide vote, nor really making things better for consumers. So, like in Real Life, you're likely going to have to make some kind of compromise here. And honestly, it would make sense to have the seller's liability for its functioning to linearly grow less and less over time, given that mechanical parts will wear down (and even smartphones have mechanical parts) over time, and it's not the fault of anything but entropy.

Also, 2.b.? No. Just no. You would actually be banning iPhones, if you tried to pass this in Real Life. And most other products that wouldn't experience the huge price hike caused by 2.a. If you broke 2.a. into an "or" list, then it would make more sense for one of the things to be applied, but having them all in a single requirement makes this dead in the water.

Additionally, clause 3? See my previous comment on expertize and professional equipment. Also, how do you repair a lightbulb? You might also run into problems with existing patent legislation. (Or copyrights, for software.)

4.a.: Wouldn't this just let manufacturers label all products as consumable items?

4.b.: Define "entirely bio-degradeable", please?

4.c.: ...what?

4.d.: Typos with "its" (you've written them as "it's"), and wouldn't the bit about repairing it run afoul of your own clause 3?

All in all, good effort, but it still needs a lot of work and especially the reasoning on why it's an international issue.

Zenkarra wrote:Regulation of Planned Obsolescence

Category: Regulation
Area of effect: Consumer Protection

A resolution which aims to place heavy restrictions on the act of the planned obsolescence of consumer products. The General Assembly hereby:

    1. Defines for the purpose of this resolution, “planned obsolescence” where all of the following criteria are true:

      a) A product which is designed and created, with the intent to be traded or sold.

      b) A product which is designed to have a limited functioning lifespan, or is designed to degrade in function over time, through mechanical faults, materials of insufficient strength, or software.

      c) A product which is made unusually difficult or expensive to restore to functionality without the assistance of the company or individuals responsible for the product's design or creation, if it is meant to be possible to repair.

    2. Requires that all members of the World Assembly choose to enforce at least one of the following two solutions:

      a) All products must have their intended lifespan clearly stated in a way that is made obvious to the purchaser. Warranties must be provided to guarantee that the product lasts for it's entire lifespan as stated to the purchaser, or will be replaced without monetary cost to the purchaser in the event of failure.

      b) All products which meet the definition of “planned obsolescence” as defined by this resolution, have their production banned. Foreign imports of these products must also be banned, unless requirement 2a is applied to them instead.

    3. Furthermore requires that all products which meet the definition of “planned obsolescence” as defined by this resolution must not be made intentionally difficult or expensive to repair by purchasers.

    4. Exempts:

      a) Products which are considered as consumable items, as long as the company or individuals responsible for its creation do not intentionally obfuscate its status as a consumable.

      b) Products which are entirely bio-degradable.

      c) Products in which planned obsolescence does not impair the intended function of the product, as communicated to the purchaser.

      d) Warranty requirements, where a consumer has intentionally attempted to damage, modify, or repair a product, or has used the product outside of it's intended purpose, where it's purpose is clearly stated to the purchaser.
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Attempted Socialism
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Postby Attempted Socialism » Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:14 am

OOC: Like Ara said: Welcome, and a fairly impressive first draft.
I find another issue with 2a, though. Spelling out intended lifespan doesn't actually solve planned obsolescence. Take lightbulbs, the oft-cited example. They have clear markings of intended lifespan on them, so-and-so many hours of light. A manufacturer could simply mark their product with the intended lifespan and continue on with their business. If they're concerned about their liability with regards to lifelong warranty, they can mark their product as having a lower intended lifespan, thus getting around the issue.


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Zenkarra
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Postby Zenkarra » Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:06 am

Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad to hear that it stands up decently. I was also unaware that anyone else had a similar idea, and I apologize if I end up making their work wasted. :lol2:

Attempted Socialism wrote:OOC: Like Ara said: Welcome, and a fairly impressive first draft.
I find another issue with 2a, though. Spelling out intended lifespan doesn't actually solve planned obsolescence. Take lightbulbs, the oft-cited example. They have clear markings of intended lifespan on them, so-and-so many hours of light. A manufacturer could simply mark their product with the intended lifespan and continue on with their business. If they're concerned about their liability with regards to lifelong warranty, they can mark their product as having a lower intended lifespan, thus getting around the issue.

You're right about lightbulbs. Most likely, this could have little effect on them. The bill allows each nation to decide for itself whether to ban planned obsolescence entirely, or to force manufacturers to be open and honest about it under restrictions. I'm uncertain if there's a better way to word the bill without it becoming too specific. At the very least, it could disincentivise their planned obsolescence through trade barriers to nations choosing the ban option, and warranty requirements.

Araraukar wrote:Your definitions require all of them to be true for a product to count for the proposal, which raises the question of why? The definition b is usually what is meant by "planned obsolescence" in everyday speech.

Araraukar wrote:4.c.: ...what?

There are types of planned obsolescence which do not directly affect the functioning of the products themselves. For example: a company can create a product which is extremely durable, but still plan to replace it with a newer model a few years later, and incentivise consumers to upgrade through less harmful means. There is also planned obsolescence through a failure to future proof an item, for example: continuing to create hardware that uses USB 2.0 ports when 3.0 ports are an option.
I believed that it was extremely necessary to make it clear that this bill is only aimed at planned obsolescence where intentional sabotage occurs. it is not intended to tackle all possible interpretations of planned obsolescence.

Araraukar wrote:Also, 2.b.? No. Just no. You would actually be banning iPhones, if you tried to pass this in Real Life. And most other products that wouldn't experience the huge price hike caused by 2.a. If you broke 2.a. into an "or" list, then it would make more sense for one of the things to be applied, but having them all in a single requirement makes this dead in the water.

Honestly, Apple is the poster child for exploitative consumer practices, particularly planned obsolescence right now. I don't think that it is in any way possible to pass a bill about this without also shooting them in the foot through their current production generation.
iPhone manufacturing would be banned or crippled within WA countries, and their sales would also probably be crippled upon being imported. I am confident however that this could be solved by the immediately following generation of iPhones. It also doesn't affect their existence, only their sale and manufacturing, up until the next iteration can meet the requirements.

Araraukar wrote:Speaking of clause 2, warranties.

Warranty requirements only take effect if planned obsolescence is confirmed to exist in the product. The intention is to fight consumer sabotage, rather than entropy itself. The main issue that I see with this is the question: "How do you know if the item's wear is intentional?" This is an area that the bill is not designed to cover, and ultimately leaves that in the hands of the nations themselves.

Araraukar wrote:how do you repair a lightbulb?

The bill does not require that a product be made easy, or even possible, to repair. The bill merely ensures that if repair is supposed to be possible, that it can also be done by a third party. For example: if your iPhone breaks, you would not be sabotaged in any way if you decided to take it to a non-apple phone repair shop.
It does still allow you to void the warranty by doing so however.

Araraukar wrote:4.a.: Wouldn't this just let manufacturers label all products as consumable items?

It would. I can't think of a good solution to this though. At the very least, it does force companies to be honest about it, and I'm not convinced that people would be happy to buy a "disposable refrigerator" at full price.


I'll be implementing the other suggestions. I wasn't sure whether to add the preamble for this draft, but I will make one for the next draft. I'll also clarify on "bio-degradable" and fix the typos.

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Zenkarra
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Postby Zenkarra » Sun Aug 18, 2019 1:21 am

I apologize for taking so long to update, but I've now posted my second draft. I added the preamble, clarified "software" on 1b, clarified clause 2 so that 2a can only apply to the intended products, clarified "bio-degradable" a bit more on 4b, and fixed typos, along with a few minor changes in wording throughout.

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Araraukar
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Postby Araraukar » Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:43 am

Zenkarra wrote:clarified "bio-degradable"

OOC: I suggest reading this (it includes links to the specific references) to find out the problems with that definition.
- Linda Äyrämäki, acting ambassador in the absence of miss Leveret
Araraukar's RP reality is Modern Tech solarpunk.

Giovenith wrote:And sorry hun, if you were looking for a forum site where nobody argued, you've come to wrong one.
Araraukar wrote:
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United Massachusetts wrote:Can we all call ourselves "cosmopolitan hammers"?
Us cosmopolitan hammers
Can teach some manners
Often sorely lacking
Hence us attacking
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Liberimery
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Postby Liberimery » Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:34 am

OOC: Posting this from my out of generation by several (I think four generations) models Apple iPhone that is perfectly reasonable in performance and only has had one major issue to usability that was fixed by a third party manufacturer. If memory serves the model was on its way out when bought new and is far older than Apple’s typical model lifecycle. Software issues were fixed by a software update and a near capacity memory, the former was out of date due to laziness’s of the owner and the latter was due to owner not wanting to pay more for more memory storage.

Most expensive fee incurred in any single repair was about $60.00 USD though I may be misremembering that price and it could have been higher or lower (by $20 up and by $10 dollars low). While I am loathed to spend money in general, a repair job that didn’t break a triple digit bill is preferable to replacing the phone with multi-hundred to thousand dollar bill, especially when I get to keep data intact in the case of the former. The trick here is the repair was made by someone who doesn’t work for the Genius Bar, Apple’s In house Repair Service found at the same location where you can buy replacements for broken phones. Apple doesn’t make a product that is more costly to fix then replace once broken (Planned obsolescence) but rather makes a product that can be repaired but also has the public image of being the best at repairing their products and design choices that make third party repairs difficult (Right to repair).

In my specific case, Apple does not have its batter in a location that is easy to swap out and to get through it, you’ll first encounter three stickers that indicate water damage. This design means that Apple can say that it looks like water damage is the reason your phone isn’t working without actually testing the electronics with a different power source. These stickers can be tripped if the phone is in a very humid but otherwise non-damaging environment and rarely last a generation lifecycle. Apple wants you to buy another phone rather than a minor fix to an otherwise perfectly working device because one is bigger income. Even rechargeable batteries die after prolonged use. And smartphones are energy guzzling fiends. Current Lithium batteries are recharged meaning you don’t need to swap batteries like you did on game boys, but each charge reduces the overall time period of a full charge (this is why the range of an electric car is still inferior to a gasoline powered car and why long haul drivers are slowly making the switch).

Anyway I think this resolution is something that is both needed and patches abuses but I think a Right to Repair focus is a better fix than banning use of parts that might have a short life but can be replaced and extend a products life.

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Barfleur
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Postby Barfleur » Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:38 pm

"The government of Barfleur supports this proposal, in addition to a separate 'right to repair' proposal. Planned obsolescence is illegal in Barfleur, both for environmental and economic reasons. With many companies in Barfleur choosing to use biodegradable materials, the environmental aspect is not as significant as it once was, but in the interests of consumer protection, we are fully behind this proposal."
Last edited by Barfleur on Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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