The FTC votes unanimously to enforce right to repair

C C Offline

EXCERPTS: During an open commission meeting Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission voted unanimously to enforce laws around the Right to Repair, thereby ensuring that US consumers will be able to repair their own electronic and automotive devices.

The FTC’s endorsement of the rules is not a surprise outcome; the issue of Right to Repair has been a remarkably bipartisan one, and the FTC itself issued a lengthy report in May that blasted manufacturers for restricting repairs. But the 5 to 0 vote signals the commission’s commitment to enforce both federal antitrust laws and a key law around consumer warranties—the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act—when it comes to personal device repairs.

The vote, which was led by new FTC chair and known tech critic Lina Khan, also comes 12 days after President Joe Biden signed a broad executive order aimed at promoting competition in the US economy. The order addressed a wide range of industries, from banks to airlines to tech companies. But a portion of it encouraged the FTC, which operates as an independent agency, to create new rules that would prevent companies from restricting repair options for consumers.

“When you buy an expensive product, whether it's a half-a-million-dollar tractor or a thousand-dollar phone, you are in a very real sense under the power of the manufacturer,” says Tim Wu, special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy within the National Economic Council. “And when they have repair specifications that are unreasonable, there's not a lot you can do."

Wu added that Right to Repair has become a "visceral example" of the enormous imbalance between workers, consumers, small businesses, and larger entities.

The FTC vote is another win for the Right to Repair movement in the US [...] Proponents of the Right to Repair have long argued that consumers should have access to the tools, parts, documentation, and software required to fix the products they own, whether it’s a smartphone or a tractor.

These groups are also quick to call out instances in which large manufacturers block or limit options for independent product repairs, or force consumers to go directly back to a manufacturer, who then charges a premium for a fix. And it’s not just a matter of fixing a broken glass back on a smartphone, or repairing an impossibly small smartwatch: During the height of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring of 2020, medical device engineers began speaking out on the dangers of not having access to repair tools for critical devices, such as ventilators, during times of crisis.

As more products are designed with internet connectivity—from smartphones to refrigerators to cars—the issue of repair rights has become increasingly complicated. Repair advocates say consumers should have access to all of the data that their personal devices collect, and that independent repair shops should have access to the same software diagnostic tools that “authorized” shops have... (MORE - details)
Zinjanthropos Offline
Didn’t the right to repair evolve into costly litigation where manufacturers were found liable when some unqualified idiot electrocuted(killed) him/herself unnecessarily? Giving the consumer the right to repair is nice but expect a few deaths, it’s inevitable IMO. Probably a good thing for manufacturers who can refer to the law now once something goes wrong. A classic ‘I told you so’ situation in the works.
Syne Offline
No, if anything right to repair would absolve the manufacturer of any such liability due to user error. Every automotive manual has clear warnings about disconnecting the battery before doing any repairs.

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