The Federal Trade Commission has held a workshop, heard repair stories, and now has received 15,059 signatures asking them to enforce a fair repair market. iFixit, along with US PIRG and Repair.org, delivered the signatures to FTC commissioners, calling on the commission to step up enforcement and protect everyone’s right to repair.
The joint petition asks the FTC to stop companies pushing customers into authorized repair contracts, voiding warranties in violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and refusing to sell replacement parts, tools, and manuals to independent repair techs. It also seeks new rules against restrictive, unreadable end-user license agreements (or EULAs), exclusive repair arrangements, and product designs that intentionally sabotage repair.
“Big tech companies have been trying to control the repair market and suppress competition for far too long, boxing out small repair businesses and harming consumers,” says Kerry Sheehan, iFixit‘s U.S. policy lead. “It’s time for the FTC to use their powers for good and take action against unfair, deceptive, and anti-competitive practices impacting repair, but the question is: ‘Will they?’”
Suffice it to say that it’s a busy week in the U.S. repair movement. All this month, the Copyright Office is hearing testimony on proposed exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. Advocates, including iFixit, US PIRG, and Repair.org, want to make the jobs of researchers, preservationists, and fixers legal whenever they work around the software blocking their work.
If the FTC looked around, they would find that far too many companies put up artificial blocks against repair, and that the U.S. is behind the curve in clearing them out.
“Repair is essential—and repair is under existential threat from over-reaching manufacturers,” says Repair.org Executive Director Gay Gordon-Byrne. “If regulators and lawmakers don’t stand up, our devices will lock out repair, manufacturers will continue to charge an arm and a leg, and consumers will be forced to pay up.”