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FTC Going After Right To Repair Restrictions, After Oz Hearings

The Federal Trade Commission, buoyed by the recent appointment of anti-big-tech Chair Lina Khan, has unanimously voted to ramp up law enforcement against the draconian right to repair restrictions, which its says “prevent small businesses, workers, consumers, and even government entities from fixing their own products.”

In May, the FTC released a report to Congress that concluded that manufacturers and sellers “may be restricting competition for repairs in a number of ways that might violate the law.”

Now they have adopted a policy statement they say “is taking important steps to restore the right to repair” by enforcing against restrictions that violate antitrust or consumer protection laws.

“These types of restrictions can significantly raise costs for consumers, stifle innovation, close off business opportunity for independent repair shops, create unnecessary electronic waste, delay timely repairs, and undermine resiliency,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said during an open Commission meeting.

“The FTC has a range of tools it can use to root out unlawful repair restrictions, and today’s policy statement would commit us to move forward on this issue with new vigour.”

This comes in the wake of this week’s Right To Repair Public Hearings in Australia, which concluded yesterday.

Clare Hobby, Director of Purchaser Engagement at TCO Development, the organisation behind the global independent sustainability certification for IT products, spoke to Channel News about the Australian hearings.

“IT products are made to last, but for several reasons too many products are being discarded when there’s plenty of life left in them,” she told us.

“One of those reasons is the many barriers to repair that exist today. These barriers include restricted access to repair manuals and product schematics that enable repair, or the price of replacement parts that in some cases is almost in line with the cost or new product replacement.

“If we are to enable the circular economy, this means using our products longer, so a robust repair ecosystem is essential.”

 

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