FTC declares Right to Repair one step closer

Apple right to repair
Image: Apple

The Right to Repair movement, predominately driven from the US and Europe, has made a significant step forward after the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) confirmed that anti-repair actions by large companies are hurting small businesses, undermining ownership rights, and hurting the planet.

To help Australian consumer awareness of the bitter fight and consequences if we don’t all support the Right to Repair movement, we have reproduced the release from iFixit – a major proponent for our rights below.

GadgetGuy feels this is a significant issue and hopes Australian readers will use the comments section to add their experiences in being denied the Right to Repair. After all, if you can’t fix something, then do you really ever own it? You can read GadgetGuy’s articles on the matter here.

FTC Finds Widespread Manufacturer Abuse in Repair Markets

A just-issued report by the US Federal Trade Commission confirms that anti-repair actions by large companies are hurting small businesses, undermining your ownership rights, and hurting the planet.

The US Federal Trade Commission protects consumers and promotes competition—and the repair world sorely needs it.

We’ve been asking the FTC to step up and take action for years. With the bipartisan, unanimous release of “Nixing the Fix: An FTC Report to Congress on Repair Restrictions,” it is finally heeding the call.

Of course, Apple, John Deere, and other manufacturers have been fighting to protect their repair monopolies with every tool—and lie—in their toolbox. After spending two years studying the issue, the FTC concluded that their arguments were all hot air:

There is scant evidence to support manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions.”

FTC

Read our in-depth analysis

Key Takeaways for right-to-repair

  • Warranties: Many manufacturers are routinely and illegally voiding warranties.
  • Intellectual Property: Independent repair does not undermine manufacturers’ intellectual property rights.
  • Safety: Independent repair is safe, and manufacturers can ensure safe repair by providing everyone access to parts and information.
  • Cybersecurity: Independent shops pose no greater risk to consumers’ privacy or security than branded repair.

This report is timely, with dual challenges of a pandemic and racial inequity facing the nation. The FTC believes these repair monopolies are exacerbating each crisis. They noted, “the higher cost of repairs disproportionally burdens Americans in financial distress,” and that “repair restrictions likely result in lower employment by local or independent repair shops…. and difficulties facing small businesses can disproportionately affect small businesses owned by people of colour.”

What can the FTC do next?

  • Enforce the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act against companies who illegally void warranties
  • Create new rules outlawing unfair repair restrictions under Section 5 of the FTC Act
  • Support state-level Right to Repair bills like those pending in 27 states
  • Work with Congress to support everyone’s Right to Repair (Senator Wyden has proposed one approach).

This story is evolving rapidly, and with the FTC’s backing, we expect Right-to-Repair initiatives will see increased traction across the country. Find the FTC’s full report here.