Do you know what the right to repair is? According to the Right to Repair Act, every person has the right to repair their own products. However, with many manufacturers refusing to work on devices they don’t produce themselves, this is not always possible. The blog post will explore the challenges that arise when people try and fix their own products. It will also explain how you can help make a difference in ensuring that everyone’s right is upheld!
What is right to repair
‘Right to repair’ is the concept that a consumer has the right to repair the product once purchased. This may seem logical to many people, however, when it comes to modern technology many companies have begun to lock down their products. This primarily started in the late 2010s when smartphones become the dominant way that people communicate and have now spread into laptops, desktops and even home appliances and cars. Many electronic devices on the market today have security screws and the manufacturer has intentionally made any repairs difficult to perform. Manufacturers claim this has been a result of the smaller devices we have and the need to tightly integrate their devices components. However, the end result is many people are forced to purchase a new device instead of repairing the one they have.
Why has right to repair become so important
With legal action happing in many countries regarding the right to repair, it has quickly become a hot toxic. It is important to consider that this is only one aspect of your life that large technology companies seem to have more and more control over. The increasing involvement of governments around the world is a sign of things to come. Whether it is right to repair or how your data is used, you can be sure these will become more important as technology is used in everyday life. This also has some precedence as in 1911 the US supreme court ordered the oil giant Standard Oil to be broken up due to monopolistic practices. The dissolution and subsequent selloff created the immense wealth of the Rockefeller family.
Should you care about right to repair
You may be reading this thinking, how does this affect you, and right now this topic may affect you very little. However, did the legal battle between Apple and Xerox affect you 90, more than likely not, but the outcome help Microsoft dominate the personal computer market for the next three decades. These legal decisions could every well determine how we can use our technology for decades to come.
Right to repair around the would
As the right to repair is commonly a domestic issue any countries have there own legislation, however, like with other matter, the common consensus of the largest markets in the world will likely determine the outcome for the entire world. Below we outline the current state of the right to repair in the three largest technology markets.
When it comes to legislation in the European Union, Germany and Austria are both leading the way. Both starting a bonus scheme for consumers that repair their existing technology. The European Commission has announced plans to instate laws regulating the repairability of electronics, they have not announced a time frame for when this will come into effect.
The situation in the US is remarkably similar to that of the EU, with Massachusetts passing several bills relating to the right to repair electronic devices and vehicles starting in 2017. At present, there is no federal bill relating to the right to repair although President Joe Biden signed an executive order back in July, which instructed the federal trade commission to pull together legislation in support of the right to repair.
There are currently no recorded laws in China around the right to repair and this is unlikely to change, as the Chinese government is very reluctant to implement laws with could inhibit economic growth.
The future of right to repair
As the EU, UK and US implement laws to ensure the right to repair, many companies are likely to ensure all their products meet the harshest laws in order to reduce manufacturing complexity.
Best companies for right to repair
Several startups have appeared with the specific intent to offer more repairable products, in addition, companies such as Ifixit have gain popularity by offering advice on how to repair your electronics and making it easy to see if your new device will be repairable down the line.
The environment impact
Many governments are implementing ‘right to repair’ laws in an attempt to reduce the environmental impact modern technology has. Only around 10-15% of electronics are recycled, the remaining 85-90% ends up in landfills. Many of your modern gadgets use several rear earth elements of which we only have a finite amount of. The process of mining is also extremely damaging to the environment.
Personal rights and technology
As our lives become more dependent on technology these kinds of laws will become more important than ever. It may seem trivial today however many of us already have electronic devices in our pocket at all times if not on our wrists. The decisions made in the next ten years around the right to repair, personal data and intellectual property, will have a massive impact on how we live our lives in the future.
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