The Federal Trade Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to push harder for the right of consumers to repair devices such as smartphones, home appliances, cars and even farm equipment, arguing that large corporations have cost consumers dearly by making these products harder to repair.
The five commissioners - two republicanns and three Democrats - voted to support a policy statement that promises to explore whether companies that make it harder for consumers to repair products violate antitrust or consumer laws, and to step up enforcement laws against offenders.
"These types of restrictions can increase costs for consumers, stifle innovation, shut down business opportunities for independent repair shops, create unnecessary electronic waste, delay timely repairs and undermine resilience, ”said Lina Khan , the chairman of the commission. "The FTC has a range of tools that it can use to eliminate illegal repair restrictions, and today's policy statement noWe would urge us to move forward on this problem with new vigor. "
The committee vote on Wednesday is in line with President Biden's policies to prioritize initiatives to increase competition among large companies and limit their power. In a executive order This month, Mr Biden urged the commission to crack down on companies that make it harder for consumers to get repaired equipment or electronics by third-party stores. He singled out agricultural equipment manufacturers - tractor maker John Deere, for example - who use the title license agreements which prevent farmers from repairing themselvess their tractors.
Wednesday's vote was a victory for the the“ right to repair ”movement , which has long advocated policies supportive of redress at the federal, state and local levels. Nathan Proctor, senior director of the Right to Repair campaign at the US Public Interest Research Group, celebrated the agency 's decision in a statement.
"They are committed to helping legal states fix improvements and tackle illegal behavior by manufacturers," Mr. Proctor said. "The FTC is no longer on the sidelines.
But TechNet, an advocacy group representing tech companies including Google and Apple, criticized the commission 's decision, saying it would only doendanger the safety of consumers.
"The FTC's decision to put in place an efficient and secure system for consumers to repair the products on which they matter to their health and safety. , and well-being, including phones, computers, fire alarms, medical devices and home security systems, will have permanent and far-reaching impacts on technology and cybersecurity, ”said Carl Holshouser, senior vice president of TechNet, in a statement. .
He sent a report to Congress in May, titled " Nixing the Fix ", in which he describes how companies have designed more difficult to repair products and how they have reduced repair options.ration in order to encourage consumers to buy new products more frequently. There is "little evidence to support manufacturers' justifications for repair restrictions, " the report says.
It also noted that limitations imposed by companies hurt consumers, especially communities of color and low-income communities. According to the report, the cost of purchasing a new product or the difficulty of repairing a product may fall disproportionately on small businesses owned by people of color.