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Fix, or Toss? The ‘Right to Repair’ Movement Gains Ground


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Last fall, Apple said it would give independent repair shops the same parts and other tools for iPhone repairs as it provides to company-authorized service providers.

In less than two weeks, Massachusetts voters will consider a measure that would make it easier for local garages to work on cars. And in more than 20 statehouses nationwide, right-to-repair legislation has been introduced in recent years by both Republicans and Democrats.

Credit: PJR/Alamy

If you buy a product — a car, a smartphone, or even a tractor — and it breaks, should it be easier for you to fix it yourself?

Manufacturers of a wide range of products have made it increasingly difficult over the years to repair things, for instance by limiting availability of parts or by putting prohibitions on who gets to tinker with them. It affects not only game consoles or farm equipment, but cellphones, military gear, refrigerators, automobiles and even hospital ventilators, the lifesaving devices that have proven crucial this year in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now, a movement known as "right to repair" is starting to make progress in pushing for laws that prohibit restrictions like these.

This August, Democrats introduced a bill in Congress to block manufacturers' limits on medical devices, spurred by the pandemic. In Europe, the European Commission announced plans in March for new right-to-repair rules that would cover phones, tablets, and laptops by 2021.

 

From The New York Times
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