As products become difficult to repair, activists and consumer organizations are championing the “Right to Repair” movement, which aims to enable consumers to repair their electronic products by themselves or by third-party technicians.

Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to prevent companies from preventing customers from repairing their own products, including laptops, smartphones, cars, washing machines and heavy manufacturing equipment.

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Why is the Right to Repair movement important?

Consumers often spend huge sums of money on these devices and gadgets, and sometimes find them obsolete a few years after purchase. For example, the battery of a smartphone is likely to degrade over time and slow down the performance of the device. And, if the battery is not replaceable, the consumer is forced to throw the device away and spend thousands of rupees on a new phone.

Fragile and irreparable components also shorten the life of a product. Manufacturers are also abandoning support for assistive devices and non-standard parts. Most modern technologies are made up of irreparable and irreplaceable components, especially if they are powered by sophisticated computer chips.

With products becoming difficult to repair, activists and consumer organizations are championing the “Right to Repair” movement, which aims to enable consumers to repair their electronic products by themselves or by third-party technicians.

Planned obsolescence

In the 1950s, Brook Stevens, an American industrial designer, pointed out the term “planned obsolescence,” a marketing practice in which manufacturers artificially shorten product life cycles and encourage consumers to purchase new products every few days. years. This practice has favored salespeople and allowed them to influence purchasing decisions to improve sales and increase profits.

Critics of the planned obsolescence method say a component repair industry could boost local businesses and create jobs. Some even note that the ability to repair products could reduce electronic waste.

“Repair is also a critical function for all forms of reuse and even for extended service life. Products that cannot be repaired instantly become electronic waste, ”the nonprofit Repair.org said on its website. Additionally, some experts believe the law could force electronics manufacturers to make better quality products, but at higher costs to consumers.

Another goal of the movement includes maintaining the value of the product which is lost if it is irreparable. Ultimately, it aims to keep the power in the hands of the consumer. “Centuries of law tell us that buying something transfers control of that item from the seller to the buyer. When contracts fail to cede full control to the buyer, the legal rights of owners are damaged, ”Repair.org noted.

Where is the movement today?

In 2021, more than 32 states in the United States proposed legislation for the right to redress law, while only the state of Massachusetts passed legislation. The Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Law passed in 2012 required vehicle manufacturers to provide the necessary documentation to enable third-party technicians to repair their vehicles.

The UK Right to Repair Act came into effect on July 1 and requires manufacturers of household appliances to provide consumers with access to spare parts and make complicated parts available at professional repair shops.

How are tech companies reacting?

Tech giants including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Tesla frown on the move, saying it threatens the protection of intellectual property and trade secrets.

Last year, Apple Inc was fined $ 113 million for artificially slowing down all older iPhone models. Earlier in 2017, the California-based company had started offering battery discounts to affected users, which could have been avoided if Apple allowed third-party battery replacements, Repair.org said. Vice.

Microsoft and Google also opposed the legislation, saying it allows uncontrolled access to diagnostic information and sensitive software.

Tesla of tech mogul Elon Musk said such an act would weaken the cybersecurity of the system and make it vulnerable to attack.