UK consumer advocacy body Which? is calling on big name smart device makers to guarantee security updates for more than just two years.
The organization points out that household appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, and TVs are expected to last for a decade, yet many big brands are now offering smart variants that are only guaranteed software updates for two years, after which appliances can lose features, functionality and be exposed to security vulnerabilities.
Which?’s estimated lifetime (ELT) is 6.8 years for TVs, 11 years for washing machines, and 13 years for dishwashers. The group also estimates that smart dishwashers cost on average £746 more upfront, or £300 more than traditional ones at £455.
As Which notes, LG’s smart TVs and washing machines are guaranteed support for two years after launch, as opposed to from when they’re sold. LG said TVs will be supported with firmware security updates “up to five years from launch”.
Samsung reported its TVs are guaranteed updates for three years after launch. It said it was aware of the UK’s recently amended Product Safety and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act and would comply with it. The act didn’t specify how long manufacturers would need to guarantee support for internet-connected appliances, but does require manufacturers are more transparent and upfront about how long products get software updates.
The European Commission’s in September proposed Cyber Resilience Act is more prescriptive, and would, when passed, require connected-device manufacturers to ensure security vulnerabilities are handled for either the expected product lifetime or five years, whichever is shorter.
European appliance manufactures and China’s Hisense fared well in Which?’s assessment of guaranteed support compared to the product’s expected lifetime.
Hisense offers 10 years guaranteed support from launch for smart TVs, and 8 years for smart dishwashers and washing machines from the date a product is discontinued.
Bosch/Neff/Siemens offer 10 years guaranteed support from the launch date of smart dishwashers and washing machines. Miele offers 10 years guaranteed support from the date smart washing machine and dishwasher models are discontinued.
Which? director of policy and advocacy, Rocio Concha, said consumers are paying a premium for products that vendors abandon well before their expected lifespan ends. She also suggested the government should consider specifying the minimum numbers of years connected devices must be supported for.
“It’s unfair for manufacturers to sell expensive products that should last for many years and then abandon them. This means the product could lose the features that justified the hefty price tag and potentially create a security risk or add to the electrical waste mountain if it has to be replaced.”