France publishes new law on the Environmental Footprint of Digital Technology | Fieldfisher
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France publishes new law on the Environmental Footprint of Digital Technology



🏛 On November 16, 2021, France published a law aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of digital technology. This law seeks to raise consumers' awareness, limit the renewal of mobile devices, promote environmentally virtuous digital uses, energy-efficient datacenters, and responsible digital strategies in French territories.

📱 New provisions include:

  • The prohibition of techniques, including software, restricting consumers' freedom to install software or operating systems of their choice on mobile devices,
  • A stricter prohibition of planned obsolescence and of techniques aiming at restricting repair or the reconditioning of devices outside of approved circuits,
  • The obligation to inform consumers of the essential characteristics of each update of the digital elements of a good, especially their impact on the performance of such good,
  • An exemption from the "remuneration of private copying" (rémunération pour copie privée) for second-hand recording devices that are reconditioned by actors of the social economy,
  • The obligation for certain electronic communications operators to publish key indicators on their policies to reduce their environmental footprint,
  • The obligation for professionals who sell or rent new mobile devices to inform consumers of the existence of offers for similar refurbished equipment,
  • As of January 1, 2022, the implementation of new conditions (e.g. waste heat recovery, limitation on the use of water for cooling purposes) for datacenters to obtain tax abatements on electricity prices.

📆 Except for the last item, the new law enters into force as of date.

👀⚠️ Key players of the digital sector should also prepare for additional regulations:

  • A draft bill aiming at reinforcing the environmental regulation of digital technologies is being discussed at the French Parliament,
  • The law creates an Observatory to quantify the environmental impacts of digital technology and propose further measures to reduce them,  
  • Official reports and recommendations are due in the coming months on the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies and on-demand gaming, on the improvement of recycling and reuse of digital equipment, and on consumer information on the environmental impact of TV, media and video-sharing platforms.