The U.S. FTC unanimously votes to enforce stricter regulations upholding ‘Right to Repair’: Clamp down on ‘deceptive restrictions that violate antitrust laws’

Right to Repair FTC
Right to Repair lives and fights on with FTC on its side. Pic credit: Karl Baron/Flickr

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has unanimously voted to clamp down on deceptive practices that seek to dissuade consumers from repairing their purchased products. Simply put, the Right to Repair movement now has a very strong ally.

The Right to Repair movement sweeping across the United States of America has just received one of the strongest votes of approval. The U.S. FTC has vowed to prioritize actions against repair restrictions that manufacturers place on their products.

The Right to Repair is a fundamental right, claim consumers:

The Right to Repair movement has been steadily growing in the United States. Tech giants such as Apple Inc. Microsoft and even other manufacturers such as John Deere have made repairing their products an expensive ordeal.

Small businesses, workers, consumers, and government entities are increasingly finding it difficult or impossible to repair their purchased products. Third-party repairs aren’t easy because manufacturers do not willingly supply spare parts, manuals, or tools. Authorized repair centers charge a hefty premium which many a time, makes replacing a viable option compared to repairing.

iFixit co-founder and CEO Kyle Wiens recently exposed Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft. He claimed companies manipulate the design of their products and the supply chain. He added their primary intention is to prevent consumers and third-party repairers from accessing necessary tools and parts to repair products such as smartphones and laptops.

He cited examples about Samsung restricting manufacturers from selling spare batteries. Another example was how Apple tweaked the design of a charging chip to restrict third-party repairs.

Essentially, companies are strictly enforcing the contractual requirements to limit spare parts availability. And these are just a few of the myriad ways in which manufacturers don’t allow easy repairs.

The U.S. FTC to crack down on illegal repair restrictions by manufacturers:

Taking note of these malpractices, the U.S. FTC has adopted a policy statement. The policy statement clearly claims to “make it extremely difficult for purchasers to repair their products or shop around for other service providers to do it for them.”

“These types of restrictions can significantly raise costs for consumers, stifle innovation, close off the business opportunity for independent repair shops, create unnecessary electronic waste, delay timely repairs, and undermine resiliency,” said FTC Chair Lina Khan.

The policy received all five votes of confidence during an open commission meeting this week. The commission assured it would target repair restrictions that violate antitrust laws enforced by the FTC or the FTC Act’s prohibitions on unfair or deceptive acts or practices.

“While unlawful repair restrictions have generally not been an enforcement priority for the commission for a number of years, the commission has determined that it will devote more enforcement resources to combat these practices.”

“Accordingly, the commission will now prioritize investigations into unlawful repair restrictions under relevant statutes such as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.”

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