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Upcycling Android: anchoring software freedom into European ecodesign


At the Free Software Foundation Europe, we advocate for the universal right to install and de-install any operating system and software on any device. The update of the European ecodesign gives a historical chance to make this right part of European legislation. Our Upcycling Android campaign marks the beginning of our activities.

More and more often we see pretty good hardware going to waste simply because the software or operating system running on it stops being supported. This is bizarre, considering the environmental footprint each of these electronic devices comes with. And it would be avoidable to a serious extent if users would have the legal right and technical liberty to install any fitting Free Software operating system on their own devices, as well as any software.

This is a Screenshot from the UA campaign video showing Free Software
A screenshot from our Upcycling Android video.

Reusing General Purpose Computers

2022 is a decisive year for this demand: the European Union is about to reformulate their ecodesign criteria of products with several directives, from the 'Sustainable Product Initiative' to the 'Circular Electronics Initiative' to the 'Right to Repair'. We started to consult the European Commission as early as possible on this. But since a multi-billion Euro industry of continuously selling newly manufactured devices with short-term supports is at stake, counter-lobbyism has also already started. A positive outcome is far from certain; and another update to the European ecodesign is not to be expected in this decade. If the role of software freedom is not considered as essential to the longevity and re-usability of our devices this time, the throw-away culture will continue.

The solution is obvious: At the FSFE we want to empower people using general purpose computers with the right to install any operating system on any device. Manufacturers must not be allowed to create artificial restrictions preventing users from installing Free Software operating systems. We advocate for the necessary changes in the upcoming legislations, and you can empower us seizing the opportunity and bring a long-lasting change for European consumers and into the European markets.

Upcycling Android workshops

Meanwhile, we already start making a difference. With our Upcycling Android campaign, we show how we can use Free Software operating systems on our phones to fix software obsolescence, and keep using them longer. To help with this procedure, we are cooperating with local groups and give workshops together, showing people how to flash their phones. Your support will allow us to offer Upcycling Android workshops throughout Europe, and let people enjoy an ongoing usage of their phone!

From legislation to workshops, let's maximise our efforts for software freedom and environmental protection. We demand true device neutrality to make technology long-lasting and repairable. Meanwhile, we extend our hardware lifespan and spare the planet the environmental impact of producing unnecessary new phones.