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US Congressman Proposes Fair Repair Act To Reduce The Impact Of Old Tech

Sun Jun 20 2021

Higher quality repair, lower prices, less environmental waste and device empowerment…

A proposed legislation in the US, put forward by New York congressman Joe Morelle, could empower consumers with their ownership of their electronic devices.

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For too long, large corporations have hindered the progress of small business owners and everyday Americans by preventing them from the right to repair their own equipment. This common-sense legislation will help make technology repairs more accessible and affordable for items from cell phones to laptops to farm equipment, finally giving individuals the autonomy they deserve.

Congressman Joe Morelle

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It’s thought the bill will be actively fought against by large tech lobby groups such as the Consumer Technology Association as these types of groups have fought against similar acts in the past.

They’ve argued that the right-to-repair waters down intellectual property rights and is a risk to consumer safety and privacy.

 

However, If this bill passed, it could provide equality for all consumers and independent repair shops. The bill would empower the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the rules, either with financial penalties or by reforming existing contracts. The same powers would also be provided to state attorneys.

Unlike other right-to-repair bills which have recently passed, the Fair Repair Act proposed by House Rep Joe Morelle, would cover all varieties of electronic devices.

For example, the Massachusetts right-to-repair bill passed by referendum in 2020 was limited only to cars.

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This important bill will help Americans keep our technology in good repair and will help small repair businesses compete on fair terms with device manufacturers. Ultimately that means higher-quality device repair for lower prices, less environmental waste, and a safer Internet of Things. The bill is also significant because it recognizes that device owners have rights, that you are allowed to understand and fix your devices even if the manufacturer would rather they were the only one.

Kit Walsh - Senior Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation

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It should also be noted that it comes a week after the senate passed a bill addressing the same issue and that bill has failed to progress.

However, on the positive side there are numerous things to take away from this with a smile:

  • It recognises that owners have the right to fix their devices on their own terms.
  • With original equipment manufacturers being compelled to provide consumers and independent repair shops access to tools, schematics and parts required to fix broken devices, it will improve the quality of repairs while lowering the cost of the repairs.
  • Less environmental waste due to accessibility to repairing rather than replacing!
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Big tech companies shouldn't be able to dictate how we use the things we own or keep us from fixing our stuff. We applaud Representative Joe Morelle for taking the fight for Right to Repair to Congress and for standing up for consumers, farmers, and independent repair shops nationwide.

Kerry Sheehan - US Policy Lead, iFixit

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Sun Jun 20 2021

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