The right to repair electronics refers to government legislation that is intended to allow consumers the ability to repair and modify their own consumer electronic devices, where otherwise the manufacturer of such devices require the consumer to use only their offered services. While a global concern, the primary debate over the issue has been centered on the United States and within the European Union.
With consumer electronics becoming increasingly more complex, many electronics manufacturers have instituted systems whereby the only means to repair a device or obtain repair parts would be through one of their authorized vendors or original equipment manufacturers (OEM). For example, Apple, Inc. offers its Genius Bar to service and support products it sold. Companies like Apple claim this is primarily to restrict the release of confidential trade secrets and other intellectual property, such as the blueprints for devices. However, if disassembly of tangible goods is outlawed for any third party, so is the right for consumers to repair said goods (even if the company has already hit insolvency or discontinues servicing).
The practice of requiring consumers to go to the manufacturer for repairs has generally been criticized as anti-competitive as it prevents any type of third-party from servicing these devices, manufacturing compatible parts (that may offer more benefit to consumers, such as more environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes), and can stifle innovation. Further, recycling of old electronic goods can be inefficient or impossible without such information.
Manufacturers have also been able to succeed in using legislation like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to prevent consumers from tinkering with their devices. Some have argued that this restrictive approach by manufacturers creates planned obsolescence for consumer products, thus forcing consumers to upgrade their devices and assure revenues for manufacturers. TRA, representing both repair shops and consumer tinkers, saw a need to protect consumers' rights. One of its first activities was to promote the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act in 2014, which repealed a ruling made by the United States Copyright Office that otherwise prevented consumers from unlocking their cell phones.
TRA worked with four states—South Dakota, New York, Minnesota, and Massachusetts—to introduce "Right to Repair" laws in those states between 2014 and 2016, which would require OEMs to provide the required information and documentation for consumers and third-party repair shops to repair their products. While New York introduced its bill in February 2015, it did not see much progression by the last month it was up for consideration in the New York State Senate, and failed to pass. It was discovered that Apple had lobbied against the bill's passage. The company had similarly lobbied to stop the Massachusetts bill. In California, state representative Susan Eggman attempted to introduce similar legislation for the state in early 2019, but was forced to pull the bill after companies like Apple and trade groups like CompTIA and Entertainment Software Association lobbied other lawmakers to assure such a bill would not pass, arguing that such "right to repair" bills could lead to people injuring themselves while trying to repair their electronics, and for hackers to insert vulnerabilities into repaired devices to affect a user's privacy and security.
Help Support Computer Mafia & Fight For Right To Repair!
We appreciate everyday being able to help and serve the community. If we have ever helped you out with advice, repairs, parts, or other services we would greatly appreciate if you would donate to our cause. All proceeds help us develop, purchase, and support this ever growing fast changing industry.
Any amount is greatly appreciated (but not required) even as low as $1. We also sell merchandise which helps our causes and helps find solutions.
A Personal Message from Computer Mafia:
We serve our community and other areas helping customers just like you with their products and devices. There are lots of people that count on us and other businesses in other areas that preform these trades that would be out of business if these digital locks grow and continue further. Right to repair needs to pass because you as a consumer paid for the device you deserve to choose where you would like to have it serviced even if you DIY. Majority of the big company's including OEM manufactures do not have your best interest in mind, and would prefer you just buy a new device.
Digital Software Locking:
OEM's such as Apple and John Deere are using embeded software to lock down all parts in their products to the serial number. Even if you replace a broken one with a new genuine part (if you can find one) the device or product will no longer function until its returned back to the manufacture for re-servicing. This is a huge disadvantage on the customer as far as choice, price, and inconvenience.
IF WE DO NOTHING TO STOP IT, THESE PRACTICES WILL SPREAD TO OTHER OEM'S AND INDUSTRYS! SUPPORT RIGHT TO REPAIR!
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