What is the Right to Repair Movement?

Have you ever dropped your phone, taken the back off to try and fix it to find you can’t? And not due to your lack of skills but because devices, machines, and technology are being made harder to repair? It’s an issue that has experienced growing concern among consumers and now state legislators in the USA with the rise of the right to repair (or fair repair) bills being prepared for 2021.

How did the Right to Repair Movement Arise?

There has been a growing trend with a lot of technology, from phones and computers to cars and more, coming with policies that make it difficult, expensive or even impossible to repair them. Many can lock users out and require them to be taken to expensive vendor-owned shops for repairs. This has angered a lot of consumers and even businesses that rely on repairing technology, machinery, and vehicles. These difficulties to fix them helped form the right to repair campaign.

Is There Anything Already in Place?

Yes, in 2013 Massachusetts passed the first Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act into state law. This requires motor vehicle manufacturers to allow vehicle owners and independent repair facilities in the state to access the same vehicle diagnostic and repair information available to the manufacturers’ dealers and authorized repair shops. It’s a good starting point and model for the right to repair movement, that seeks similar terms for electronic products and appliances to be fixed by a repair shop or service provider of the consumer’s choice.

What Will it Mean for the Tech Industry?

If the right to repair movement is successful and passed into certain state laws, it would mean that electronics manufacturers would have to provide repair guides, diagnostics, repair tools and replacement parts for their appliances. For the technology industry, it could mean that specialists hired to fix specific issues are no longer required, while software that measures for the likelihood of wear and tear for machines becomes more widely available. 

Will There Be a Wider Impact?

There could be something of a positive environmental effect, as if people can fix their own appliances a lot easier and cheaper then they may be less likely to just throw them away. It is also believed it could create more jobs, with independent repair shops able to fix more devices and appliances, though it might also reduce jobs in other sectors. 

The right to repair movement looks to protect consumers and state legislation should put more power in their hands rather than the big manufacturing companies, which should be a positive step.