Agencies look to consumers, “right to repair” rules to help stores

Washington – Americans repair broken cell phones, computers, video game consoles, and even tractors themselves, or use independent repair shops under the supervision of federal regulators subject to manufacturer restrictions. I can.

In response to a new competition directive from the Biden White House, the Federal Trade Commission is moving towards writing new rules aimed at supporting small repair businesses and saving consumer money on repair costs. I will. Five FTC members addressed the so-called “right to repair” issue on Wednesday.

Unavailable parts, instruction manuals, diagnostic software and tools, product design restrictions, and locks on software embedded in devices make it difficult to modify and maintain many consumer products, according to regulators and industry critics. It has become. Do-it-yourself repairs often require access to specialized tools, hard-to-find parts, and diagnostic software protected by the manufacturer.


Regulators claim that the restrictions lead consumers to repair networks of manufacturers and distributors, or to replace products before they reach the end of their useful life. As the FTC and the Biden administration see, it raises the issue of anti-competitive behavior.

According to regulators, repair restrictions often apply most to minority and low-income consumers. According to an FTC report to Congress in May, many black-owned SMEs are repairing equipment, and repair shops are often owned by entrepreneurs in poor communities.

For minorities and low-income consumers, repair restrictions are particularly strict for mobile phones, the report said. These consumers often have mobile phones, but lack broadband access to their home computers and are becoming more dependent on the phone.

According to industry critics, the coronavirus pandemic has restricted repairs for all consumers as computers have become essential for remote work, schooling for children at home, and visiting relatives on the screen. Exacerbated the impact.


By allowing consumers to repair themselves, “you can save money, keep using your electronics, and stay away from scrap piles,” said the director of the US Public Interest Research Group’s Repair Rights Campaign. Nathan Proctor says. “It helps farmers keep their equipment outdoors and from dealers,” Proctor said in a recent statement. “More repair options protect the environment by reducing the amount of new electronics we make and the old ones we throw.”

Meanwhile, manufacturers protect their intellectual property, protect consumers from injuries that can result from product repairs or the use of improperly repaired products, and repair restrictions to protect them from cybersecurity risks. Claims to be necessary. Manufacturers state that if an independent repair shop repairs defective equipment, it could be responsible or harm their reputation.

New repair rights laws and regulations “similar to consumers and manufacturers, including limiting consumer choice, hindering innovation, threatening consumer safety and well-being, and (and) opening the door to counterfeiting. Will bring innumerable harm and unintended consequences. ” The National Association of Manufacturers said in a prepared statement.


Laws to ease repair restrictions are in force in about 25 states, and the European Community is also considering new repair rights regulations.

The repair directive was included in President Joe Biden’s radical executive order issued earlier this month, which he labeled as anti-competitive practice in technology, healthcare, banking, and other key parts of the economy. It is intended for things. The order has 72 actions and recommendations, and Biden said it would lower family prices, raise workers’ wages, promote innovation and faster economic growth. However, new regulations that government agencies may write to translate his policies into rules can lead to epic court battles.

“To be clear, non-competitive capitalism is not capitalism. It’s exploitation,” Biden said at the White House signing ceremony.

The order includes prohibitions or restrictions on so-called non-compete agreements to help raise wages, changes to rules to pave the way for the sale of hearing aids in drugstores, and excessive premature termination by Internet companies. Includes a ban on charges. The Department of Transportation is asking you to consider requesting a refund of your fare if your baggage is delayed or if in-flight service is not provided as advertised.


Follow Marcy Gordon on https://twitter.com/mgordonap

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Agencies look to consumers, “right to repair” rules to help stores

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