The Right to Repair

Did you know there is legislation for consideration right now about The Right to Repair?

Big manufacturers of technology and equipment have historically been the only people with the access and knowledge to fix the tech they sell. Which is convenient, because if you are a tech user, and your tech breaks, it’s a lot more cost-beneficial for them to just sell you something new than to fix it for you.

There’s a lot of legal jargon that goes into it but the bottom line is that when you accept an end user license agreement, which you generally do when making purchases of living technology like a computer or a phone or a video, there can be some hidden language in that agreement that essentially says you cannot fix or repair your own device (or at least, if you do, it will void your warranty). Sketchy, right? It causes a whole bunch of issues such as consumer rights, increased e-waste, affordability of products and services and ownership. “We really don’t own the things that we can’t fix, and that’s what’s been going on with these end-user license agreements…If we click to accept, then we are agreeing that we will not fix our stuff,” said Gay Gordon-Byrne, Executive Director of The Repair Association. Where does state legislature come in? Well, now states have the right to say, “Hey Mr. Manufacturer, if you’re going to do business in my state, you must provide fair and reasonable access to the same repair materials you have already created for purposes of repair and sell those to consumers and to independent businesses,” according to Gordon-Byrne.

What Do I Need to Know?

Colorado, Minnesota, Massachusetts and New York have active laws protecting the right to repair, and lawmakers in 30 other states introduced bills on the issue this year. That’s great progress toward fair and level playing fields for independent, third-party businesses, like mender, to help individuals and companies recycle, refurbish or repair their technology and extend it’s life to reduce e-waste and help the environment. It’s also just the right thing for tech owners to have access to this kind of information so you aren’t forced into a new device every time something goes awry. “Are we really going to go down the path of…different sate laws? Or are we going to do what we should do, which is develop a national approach to this to institute right to repair in every state in the country…?” said Walter Alcorn, the Consumer Technology Association vice president of environmental affairs and industry sustainability. We are looking forward to seeing where these discussions go across the country, but one thing we know for sure: Any step forward for the right to repair is a step toward better sustainability.

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