In New York this month, a new bill has been opened up for debate in the legislature. It’s called the Right to Repair bill, and it concerns one’s right to experiment, tinker, and repair their own device without having to go through an authorized service center.
An informational website about the bill (http://newyork.repair.org/) does a good job of summing up its important provisions. In summary, these are the basic rights that the bill would grant device owners:
- Information: The documentation, software, and legal ability we need to repair our own products -- or choose someone we trust to do it for us.
- Parts + Tools: Fair access to service parts and tools, including diagnostics.
- Unencumbered Resale: We should be able resell our products (including the software needed to operate them).
The current status quo doesn’t look very good for consumers or independent repair centers. To repair their device, one is expected to use official manufacturer-authorized channels for support, which is often very expensive and harmful for the environment. These channels typically rely on a “replace-not-repair” mentality, often throwing away perfectly working components with barely any faulty parts. The process fills landfills with electronic waste and overcharges consumers for small repairs.
In addition, companies like Apple and John Deere refuse to fix devices if they have been “tampered” with by consumers. The system they use to test for this is often glitchy and yields false positives, leaving many owners out in the cold.
For customers who cannot afford an official repair, many go to independent service centers, who charge much less for similar repairs. However, manufacturers withhold components and diagnostics from these repair shops, and as such they cannot do their job to the best of their abilities. The general public often loses faith in these mom-and-pop corner stores because of this, forcing them out of business with not enough money to sustain themselves.
Passing this bill would have a major impact on the economy and the environment. Consumers would benefit because they would have confidence in repair shops with proper tools to do their job. Repair centers would benefit with the newfound competition in the industry, driving down prices for consumers. The environment would benefit with less working components being thrown away. There is only one collective that this would have a negative impact on: the already heavy pockets of mega-corporations such as Apple and John Deere.
For more information, please see these links: