FTC voted unanimously to enforce maintenance rights

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During the opening period At the committee meeting on Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission voted unanimously to implement a law on repair rights to ensure that American consumers can repair their electronics and car equipment.

This Federal Trade Commission The approval of the rules is not an unexpected result; the issue of maintenance rights has always been an obvious bipartisan issue, and the FTC itself Published a lengthy report In May, the bill attacked manufacturers for restricting repairs. But the 5-0 vote showed that the committee is committed to enforcing the federal antitrust law and a key law surrounding consumer warranty – Magnussen Moss Warranty Act-When it comes to personal equipment maintenance.

The vote led by the new FTC chairman and well-known technology critic Lina Khan also took place 12 days after President Joe Biden Signed a wide range of executive orders Designed to promote competition in the U.S. economy. The order covers a wide range of industries, from banks to airlines to technology companies. But part of it encourages the FTC, which operates as an independent agency, to formulate new rules to prevent companies from restricting consumers’ repair options.

“When you buy expensive products, whether it’s a $500,000 tractor or a thousand-yuan mobile phone, you are truly under the power of the manufacturer,” said Tim Wu, special assistant to the president, of technology and competition within the National Economic Council. policy. “And when their maintenance specifications are unreasonable, there is nothing you can do.”

Wu added Right to repair It has become an “inner example” of a huge imbalance between workers, consumers, small businesses and large entities.

Fixed position

The FTC vote is another victory for the U.S. maintenance rights movement, which U.S. Public Interest Research Group, And like a private company I fix it, The California-based company sells gadget repair kits and publishes repair manuals for DIY tinkerers. Supporters of maintenance rights have long believed that consumers should have access to the tools, parts, documents, and software needed to repair the products they own, whether it’s a smartphone or a tractor.

These groups also quickly pointed out that large manufacturers prevented or restricted independent product repair options, or forced consumers to return directly to the manufacturer, who then charged the repair fee.And it’s not just a matter of reinstalling broken glass back into a smartphone or repairing an impossibly small smartwatch: at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020, medical equipment engineers Start to speak Regarding the danger of not being able to obtain maintenance tools for critical equipment such as ventilators in times of crisis.

As more and more products are designed with Internet connectivity — from smartphones to refrigerators to cars — the issue of maintenance rights becomes more and more complex. Maintenance advocates say that consumers should have access to all the data collected by their personal devices, and independent repair shops should be able to use the same software diagnostic tools as “authorized” shops.

“I urge the Federal Trade Commission to use its rule-making power to strengthen basic consumer and private property rights and update them in the digital age as manufacturers try to turn hundreds of millions of technology owners into tenants of their own property,” Paul Said Roberts, the founder Securepairs.org, In the public comments section of today’s FTC meeting. “Digital repair rights are an important tool for extending the service life of electronic equipment.”



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