F.T.C. Votes to Back Right-to-Repair Rules

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Politics|The F.T.C. votes to usage its leverage to marque it easier for consumers to repair their phones.


A idiosyncratic    refurbishes a compartment  phone.
Credit...Regis Duvignau/Reuters
  • July 21, 2021, 10:02 p.m. ET

The Federal Trade Commission voted unanimously connected Wednesday to propulsion harder for the close of consumers to repair devices similar smartphones, location appliances, cars and adjacent workplace equipment, arguing that ample corporations person outgo consumers by making specified products harder to fix.

All 5 commissioners — 2 Republicans and 3 Democrats — voted to backmost a argumentation connection that promises to research whether companies that marque it harder for consumers to repair products are breaking antitrust oregon user extortion laws, and to measurement up enforcement of the laws against violators.

“These types of restrictions tin importantly rise costs for consumers, stifle innovation, adjacent disconnected concern accidental for autarkic repair shops, make unnecessary physics waste, hold timely repairs and undermine resiliency,” said Lina Khan, the commission’s chairwoman. “The F.T.C. has a scope of tools it tin usage to basal retired unlawful repair restrictions, and today’s argumentation connection would perpetrate america to determination guardant connected this contented with caller vigor.”

The commission’s ballot connected Wednesday falls successful enactment with President Biden’s policies to prioritize initiatives to summation contention betwixt ample corporations and to bounds their power. In an executive order this month, Mr. Biden encouraged the committee to ace down connected companies that marque it harder for consumers to get instrumentality oregon electronics repaired by third-party shops. It singled retired manufacturers of farming instrumentality — the tractor shaper John Deere, for illustration — that usage license agreements that artifact farmers from repairing their tractors connected their own.

Wednesday’s ballot was a triumph for the “right to repair” movement, which has agelong been pushing for repair-friendly policies astatine the federal, authorities and section levels. Nathan Proctor, the elder manager of the United States Public Interest Research Group’s Right to Repair campaign, celebrated the agency’s determination successful a statement.

“They person pledged to assistance states successful making close to repair improvements, and to tackle amerciable behaviour from manufacturers,” Mr. Proctor said. “The F.T.C. is nary longer connected the sidelines.”

But TechNet, an advocacy radical representing exertion companies including Google and Apple, criticized the determination by the commission, saying it would lone jeopardize the information of consumers.

“The F.T.C.’s determination to upend an effectual and unafraid strategy for consumers to repair products that they trust connected for their health, safety, and well-being, including phones, computers, occurrence alarms, aesculapian devices, and location information systems, volition person far-reaching, imperishable impacts connected exertion and cybersecurity,” Carl Holshouser, the elder vice president of TechNet, said successful a statement.

It sent a study to Congress successful May, titled “Nixing the Fix,” successful which it described however companies designed products to beryllium harder to hole and however they narrowed repair options successful bid to propulsion consumers to much often bargain caller products. There is “scant grounds to enactment manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions,” the study said.

It besides noted that the limitations imposed by companies harmed the consumer, particularly communities of colour and low-income communities. According to the report, the outgo of buying a caller merchandise oregon the trouble of repairing a merchandise tin autumn disproportionately connected tiny businesses owned by radical of color.

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