The U.S. Government issues Executive Order that boosts ‘Right to Repair’ movement: Will consumers and small repair shops benefit?

Right to Repair Joe Biden FTC Executive Order
Joe Biden supports Right to Repair? Pic credit: Espen Klem/Flickr

The current American President has issued an Executive Order that might be a huge boost to the ongoing Right to Repair movement. President Biden wants to boost competition and offer better regulatory support for independent tech repair shops.

Late last week, President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order as part of a plan to boost competition across numerous sectors. However, several Right to Repair activists is confident their fight has received federal approval.

FTC to issue new guidelines that protect and promote the Right to Repair?

President Joe Biden has signed an Executive Order that essentially directs the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to draft rules to boost competition across numerous sectors. These include healthcare, the auto industry, online platforms, and consumer devices.

The executive order covers more than 72 initiatives and includes a broad range of reforms around the competition laws. President Biden asked the U.S. FTC to reportedly make rules around the anticompetitive tactics employed by phone manufacturers on self and third-party repairs.

In May this year, the US FTC argued that there is “scant evidence to support manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions”. The scathing report titled “Nixing the Fix” was submitted before Congress.

Needless to mention, the new directive has a wide spectrum of beneficiaries. But the most obvious beneficiaries would be smartphone buyers and farmers who pay exorbitant repair and servicing costs.

The executive order also encourages the FTC “to issue rules against anti-competitive restrictions on using independent repair shops or doing DIY repairs of your own devices and equipment.”

Undoubtedly, this may help tip the balance in favor of consumers and small repair shops. Several of these individuals and small companies have long been fighting against big tech hardware makers.

Will Biden’s Executive Order help consumers and small-time repair shops?

For a long time, companies, especially Apple, John Deere, etc. have designed products that are unfriendly to independent repair shops. There is no doubt that policies implemented by multiple premium brands severely impede consumers’ ability to repair their own appliances.

Incidentally, companies such as Apple do not even share spare parts and other necessary tools to conduct simple repairs with third-party repair shops. This results in exorbitantly high repair costs, and that too if the authorized service center agrees to repair the product.

Needless to mention, small businesses engaged in offering third-party services have long tried to “discover and invent” tools and software that help conduct repairs. However, companies are now actively deploying methods to detect such repairs and warn, scare, or dissuade buyers.

The Biden administration is clearly trying to boost local businesses. However, the Executive Order may have effectively asked the FTC to ensure large tech companies play nice with consumers and third-party repair shops.

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