MP3 players sold in Europe could one day come with pre-set audio volume limits if plans proposed by a European Commissioner become official.
Most MP3 players already allow users to set a maximum volume. However, an EC mandate would force manufacturers to automatically limit each player's volume before it could be sold in Europe.
Speaking in Brussels earlier today, Meglena Kuneva, European Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, said the mandate would force all MP3 players to be sold to consumers with a “safe exposure” volume setting as the default.
Consumers will still be able to override the safe default setting, she admitted.
Kuneva's scheme appears to be taking cues from established French law, which dictates that portable audio devices must not pump out music beyond 100dB.
The mandate would also impose new requirements for "adequate consumer warnings" about the risks of listening to loud music.
Despite being littered with hearing loss-related statistics and having received backing from the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, the plan is far from becoming law.
Kuneva has sent her suggestion to European Standardisation bodies, but admitted that “devising new standards for a market of 500 million consumers across the EU… can take up to 24 months”.
The mandate must still be presented before European Parliament. MP3 manufacturers will also want their say on its possible implications, too.
Extra detail will be added to the proposed legislation in due course, Kuneva admitted, including “detailed prescriptive technical solutions”. It’s reasonable to assume that this would stipulate what a safe volume is and how or where consumer warning should be placed. ®