March 16, 2019

Right to repair movement growing

Wire -Increasingly, companies use a variety of tactics to block access to repair. Companies either don’t sell replacement parts, or they sell them at ridiculous markups. They don’t make repair information, such as manuals or schematics, publicly available or open-source. They manipulate the software so that if you get unauthorized repairs done, the device locks until the manufacturer unlocks it. This forces the customer to take any problem to the original manufacturers, who can charge whatever they want. This means the manufacturing companies have all the cards to decide if, when, and how much it costs to fix something.

The result is we tend to repair broken items less, and buy new things more.

A recent U.N. report ... found that electronic waste is the fastest growing part of our waste stream. Not only that, electronic waste is often quite toxic, containing lead, chromium and toxic flame retardants.

That’s why our Right to Repair movement has hit a nerve with people. Too many of us have been quoted $500 to fix a $600 device, or seen our phones slow down with the latest update. Farmers have been getting fed up that before they can fix farm equipment, they have to pay a dealer to digitally unlock the software that makes that equipment run.

Right to Repair laws are popping up all over the country. This legislation, which would require manufacturers to provide access to the parts and service information needed to fix our stuff, has already been raised in 19 state legislatures so far this year. From Nebraska to Hawaii and Oregon to New Hampshire, people just want to fix their stuff.

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