The US Federal Trade Commission unanimously voted to fight against illegal restrictions on repairs. In a policy statement published on Wednesday, the agency said it plans to devote additional resources to enforcing existing laws, such as Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which protect small businesses and consumers from companies that would prevent them from fixing on their own products they bought. In doing so, the FTC will approach a five-part approach to the problem that will include collecting comments and complaints from the public, as well as working more closely with state law enforcement and policy makers to update existing regulations.
“These kinds of restrictions can significantly increase costs for consumers, stifle innovation, close business opportunities for independent services, create unnecessary electronic waste, delay timely repairs and undermine resilience,” recently confirmed FTC President Lina Khan said. “The FTC has a number of tools it can use to eradicate illegal repair restrictions, and today’s policy statement would oblige us to move forward on this issue with renewed vigor.”
The policy statement follows a Executive order of 9 July in which President Biden instructed the FTC to tackle “unfair anti-competitive restrictions on the repair or self-repair of third-party items” imposed by “powerful producers” in the agricultural and technology industries. With Wednesday’s announcement, the FTC has not named any specific companies to target as part of any enforcement actions. However, a company like Apple will probably be in the first place of the agency. Technical giant continuously lobbied against the right at the state level to amend laws, arguing that these laws would expose consumers to risk.
Proponents of the right to repair quickly praised the announcement. “The FTC sets the tone for national trade. For too long, manufacturers have been harassing consumers and forcing local services out of business,” said iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens. blog post the company announced after the announcement of the policy. “This significant new policy is changing that. There’s a new sheriff in town.”
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