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Saturday, October 16, 2021
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What is The Right to Repair Movement?

Written by Vedika Pathania, a second-year student.

The concept underlying the “right to repair” is that if you own something, you should be allowed to repair it yourself or take it to a professional of your choosing…

By I Kid You Not , in Explained Facts to Know World News , at July 22, 2021 Tags: , , ,

Written by Vedika Pathania, a second-year student.

Let’s start with an example. Imagine that you bought a shiny, brand new, expensive phone a year ago but now it barely gets you through the day without being charged 2-3 times. Wherever you go, you’re forced to carry a charger around. You’re left with no other choice but to spend more money on a new phone, even though your current phone works perfectly fine except for the battery.

All around the world, this experience is more common than you’d think be it phones, laptops, or cars.

A growing right-to-repair movement has been lobbying for legislation that demands access to repair equipment as devices become increasingly difficult to repair.

Let’s look at what all of this means and why it matters.

The concept underlying the “right to repair” is that if you own something, you should be allowed to repair it yourself or take it to a professional of your choosing. When it comes to older cars and appliances, people are used to this concept, but right-to-repair activists claim that current technology, particularly anything with a computer chip inside, is rarely repairable. Countries all throughout the world have been pushing to pass effective “right to repair” legislation in recent years. But it’s no wonder that digital powerhouses like Apple and Microsoft have been staunch opponents of the movement over the years.

President Joe Biden of the United States recently signed an executive order directing the Federal Trade Commission to reduce manufacturer limitations that limit consumers’ freedom to repair their gadgets on their own terms. The United Kingdom, too, has enacted right-to-repair legislation that should make it much easier to buy and repair everyday items like televisions and washing machines.

How did it start and why?

The movement has its origins in the 1950s, at the birth of the computer era. The movement’s goal is to urge businesses to make spare parts, tools, and information on how to repair gadgets available to customers and repair shops so that items have a longer lifespan and don’t end up in landfills. They claim that these companies are creating a culture of ‘planned obsolescence,’ which means that items are made to last for a particular amount of time before being replaced. They argue that this has a significant negative impact on the environment and wastes natural resources. Small repair shops, which are an important component of local economies, will benefit from this, according to proponents of the right to repair. They claim that if a company has a monopoly on repairs, prices will grow dramatically and quality will suffer. These campaigners emphasise the importance of price as a crucial factor.

Why are bigger manufacturers opposing the movement?

Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Tesla, among other large tech corporations, have been campaigning against the right to repair. Their reasoning is that granting access to their intellectual property to third-party repair services or amateur repairers could lead to exploitation and jeopardise the safety and security of their equipment. These businesses are always saying that they are attempting to improve their own durability. Only Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak backed the cause, claiming that without open technology rights, he would not have been able to develop his business.

In a country like India, where service networks are typically patchy and authorised workshops are few and far, a Right to Repair law could be extremely beneficial. The informal repair sector in India does a decent job. However, if such legislation is passed, the quality of repair and maintenance services might significantly improve. Though the planned and implemented legislation differ, the goal is to abolish a repair monopoly and make repair information accessible to everybody.

Key points summary

  • A growing right-to-repair movement has been lobbying for legislation that demands access to repair equipment as devices become increasingly difficult to repair.
  • Countries all throughout the world have been pushing to pass effective “right to repair” legislation in recent years.
  • The movement has its origins in the 1950s, at the birth of the computer era. The movement’s goal is to urge businesses to make spare parts, tools, and information on how to repair gadgets available to customers and repair shops
  • Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Tesla, among other large tech corporations, have been campaigning against the right to repair.
  • The goal is to abolish a repair monopoly and make repair information accessible to everybody.

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