The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted unanimously on Wednesday to adopt a right-to-repair policy and ramp up its enforcement against illegal restrictions that make it more difficult for consumers to repair their own devices.
The move came after President Joe Biden signed a sweeping executive order that—among many other things—encouraged the agency to create rules about right-to-repair, and cracking down on companies creating “anticompetitive restrictions on using independent repair shops or doing DIY repairs of your own devices and equipment”
The administration specifically called out smartphone makers that “impose restrictions on self and third-party repairs” in a fact sheet about the executive order.
In its policy statement, the FTC said it would target repair restrictions that violate antitrust laws, and urged the public to submit complaints. The policy statement says restricting consumers or businesses from choosing how they repair their products can “substantially increase the total cost of repairs, generate harmful electronic waste, and unnecessarily increase wait times for repairs.”
“These types of restrictions can significantly raise costs for consumers, stifle innovation, close off business opportunity for independent repair shops, create unnecessary electronic waste, delay timely repairs, and undermine resiliency,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said during an agency meeting today. “The FTC has a range of tools it can use to root out unlawful repair restrictions, and today’s policy statement would commit us to move forward on this issue with new vigor.”
In May, the FTC sent a report to Congress where it noted different types of repair restrictions like “using adhesives that make parts difficult to replace, limiting the availability of spare parts, and making diagnostic software unavailable.”
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