A movement recently started in the UK urging manufacturers to give consumers the right to repair the product they buy by themselves. Manufacturers would usually give repair services at a premium or maybe design their products in such a way that no one could repair them. Yes, I am talking about Apple. The movement has gained so much momentum that the UK has introduced a right-to-repair law.
The new set of rules bind manufacturers legally to make spare parts available to all the customers who buy electronic appliances. This would mean that people would no longer need to find authorized repair shops that would repair their device while charging them a premium for it. The European Commission is also expected to announce plans for right-to-repair rules for smartphones, tablets, and laptops as well.
US President Joe Biden is also expected to sign an executive order in support of the right to repair movement as well. The order consists of asking the Federal Trade Commission or FTC to draw up rules on the repair of farming equipment. Farmers have been wanting to repair their trusty tools by themselves for a while but manufacturers just won’t let them. Farmers usually know their way around their tools and it isn’t a surprise if they know how to fix them as well.
The current White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said that the new rules would give farmers “the right to repair their own equipment how they like”. The new rules are also expected to include phone or game consoles as well. Overall it seems that the movement is gaining a lot of momentum. We might even see Apple changing some of their policies as well though it is extremely unlikely. Apple has opposed the movement in general. Technology giants like Amazon and Microsoft did something similar. They all said that independent repairs could affect the safety and securities of their devices.
Some are even demanding that right to repair laws be expanded and that companies should also provide access to mechanical and electronic repair data. Some companies opposed these notions and said that sharing such information would violate their intellectual property or IP rights. The FTC, however, dismissed the concerns in a brief report, almost 56 pages long. The gist of it was that “The assertion of IP rights does not appear to be a significant impediment to independent repair”.
Some other companies even tried a different angle to quell the right-to-repair movement saying that consumers trying independent repairs could put themselves at risk by using an improperly repaired product or get injured while repairing the product.
All in all, the movement is trying to put power back into the hands of consumers and I’d say that something like that is an absolute win.