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Right to Repair could be required nationwide thanks to a presidential order

Your phone maker might have no choice but to let you fix your device.

Published onJuly 6, 2021

  • President Biden is preparing an executive order that would have the FTC create Right to Repair rules.
  • It would let you fix your phone or PC yourself, or at an independent repair shop.
  • The order could be issued within days.

If you’ve been dreaming of a day when you could fix your own devices (or take them to independent shops) without warranty hassles, you might soon get your wish. Bloomberg has learned that President Biden will soon issue an executive order asking the Federal Trade Commission to create Right to Repair rules that would apply nationwide.

The Right to Repair order would let the FTC define the particular rules, but Biden would focus his attention on phone manufacturers, farm equipment, and defense contractors, according to Bloomberg‘s sources. The White House hasn’t confirmed the details of the order, but economic advisor Brian Deese said the executive decision would lead to “greater competition,” lower prices, and higher wages.

Biden will reportedly issue the order in the days ahead.

Read more: Should we tolerate hard-to-fix devices?

Any FTC order would take a while to implement. If national Right to Repair rules comes to pass, though, companies might not be allowed to void your warranty or otherwise punish you for unofficial maintenance. The rules might also prevent companies from limiting access to necessary repair tools. The measures might not make repairs easy, however — you might still have to deal with glue and sealed-in batteries.

The order would come after numerous government have tried implementing (and occasionally succeeded with) Right to Repair measures of their own. While state legislatures have largely failed to implement repair rights in law (sometimes due to lobbying), the European Commission is planning to institute rules that would mandate wider repair options for phones, PCs, and tablets. A US-wide bill would effectively supercede the states and replicate at least some of that EU approach.

Expect stiff resistance from tech companies. Apple, Google, Microsoft, and others have fought hard against Right to Repair bills. The firms argue the measures would make it easier to rip off intellectual property, increase security risks, and even harm users through botched repair attempts. Not that these arguments would have much impact at the FTC. It’s likely to move forward regardless of what companies want, making it just a matter of time before you have more repair choices.

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