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The FTC vows to 'root out' illegal repair restrictions on phones, fridges, tractors and more

July 22, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 20.1%. 1 min read.

Smartphone with a broken touch screen. Mobile phone broken. The phone crashed. Replacing broken glass on a cell phone. Smartphone repair.

US regulators are vowing to make it easier for consumers and independent service shops to repair commercial products like smartphones without having to rely on those products' manufacturers, effectively backing a principle known as "right to repair."

On Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission led by Chair Lina Khan voted unanimously to condemn restrictions imposed by manufacturers on products that make them more difficult to repair independently.

"Restricting consumers and businesses from choosing how they repair products can substantially increase the total cost of repairs, generate harmful electronic waste, and unnecessarily increase wait times for repairs," the FTC's new policy statement said.

In remarks ahead of the vote, FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra said the agency had received reports of hospitals that were prevented from fixing ventilators during the pandemic as a result of manufacturer restrictions, making the right-to-repair issue a matter of life and death.

The vote follows an FTC report published in May that addressed the right-to-repair issue, finding that most of the justifications put forward by manufacturers for repair restrictions are "not supported by the record. " Companies defending repair restrictions have cited the need to protect their intellectual property, promote safety and cybersecurity, and provide better quality of service.

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