U.S. is considering right-to-repair rules that target smartphone makers
As smartphones have become more advanced and eye-catching, they have also become increasingly complex to repair. Not too long ago, most phones offered removable batteries, and repair parts were easily obtainable, too. But with most phones nowadays opting for unibody designs and proprietary parts, it usually requires a visit to the service center if something gets broken and needs to be replaced. In March last year, the EU introduced new right-to-repair laws covering smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Now the US is on course to follow suit with similar laws.
Bloomberg reports that President Joe Biden is gearing up to direct the US Federal Trade Commission to draft new “right to repair” rules to make it possible for users to repair products on their own or at independent repair shops. Although the order is primarily focused on farmers, Bloomberg says it will also include smartphone makers and Department of Defense contractors as possible areas for regulation.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the new rules would give users “the right to repair their own equipment how they like.”
The order is expected to be released “in the coming days” and is designed to drive “greater competition in the economy, in service of lower prices for American families and higher wages for American workers.”
“Big tech has been taking advantage of consumers for too long, at the expense of local small businesses. We’re very encouraged that the Biden administration is planning to use the rulemaking power of the FTC to restore competition,” said iFixit in a statement to Engadget.
While the exact specifics of the new rules are unknown, it could force companies to remove obstacles that make it harder for users to repair their devices independently. This could be achieved by making tools and repair parts available to users and third-party repair shops, removing artificial software locks, publishing wiki guides and resources for repairing, and so on.
Featured image by Kilian Seiler on Unsplash