FTC promises rigorous action to strengthen its “right to repair” | Business

Washington — Americans are free to repair broken cell phones, computers, video game consoles, and even the tractor itself, or use an independent repair shop, under the supervision of federal regulators.

Regulators claim that restrictions have led consumers to a repair network of manufacturers and distributors, or to replace products before they reach the end of their useful life.

As the Federal Trade Commission and the Biden administration see, it raises the issue of anti-competitive behavior.

The FTC is working towards creating new rules for restrictions. On Wednesday, five FTC members unanimously adopted a policy statement in support of a “right to repair” that promised stronger enforcement efforts and could pave the way for new regulations.

“These types of (repair) restrictions significantly increase consumer costs, curb innovation, block business opportunities for independent repair shops, generate unwanted e-waste and delay timely repairs. , It can impair resilience, “said FTC Chairman Lina Khan. “FTC has a variety of tools that can be used to eradicate illegal repair restrictions. Today’s policy statement promises to take this issue forward with new momentum.”

The policy statement promises the agency to prosecute repair restrictions that violate current antitrust or consumer protection laws. For example, the 1975 law requires that if a product has a warranty (not required), the warranty does not use the disclaimer in an unreasonable or deceptive manner. It is also prohibited to bind a warranty to the use of a particular service provider or product unless the FTC issues an exemption in that case.

Unavailable parts, instruction manuals, diagnostic software and tools, product design restrictions, and locks on software embedded in devices make it difficult to modify and maintain many consumer products, according to regulators and industry critics. It has become. Do-it-yourself repairs often require access to specialized tools, hard-to-find parts, and diagnostic software protected by the manufacturer.

According to regulators, repair restrictions often apply most to minority and low-income consumers. According to an FTC report to Congress in May, many black-owned SMEs are repairing equipment, and repair shops are often owned by entrepreneurs in poor communities.

For minorities and low-income consumers, repair restrictions are particularly strict for mobile phones, the report said. These consumers often have mobile phones, but lack broadband access to their home computers and are becoming more dependent on the phone.

According to industry critics, the coronavirus pandemic has restricted repairs for all consumers as computers have become essential for remote work, schooling for children at home, and visiting relatives on the screen. Exacerbated the impact.

“Manufacturer, Warning: It’s time to get rid of your actions and get people to fix their problems,” Nathan Proctor, director of the US Public Interest Research Group’s repair rights campaign, said in a statement Wednesday. “With unanimous support from the commissioner, there is a new sheriff in the town. The FTC is ready to act to thwart many plans used to undermine repairs.”

Meanwhile, manufacturers protect their intellectual property, protect consumers from injuries that can result from product repairs or the use of improperly repaired products, and repair restrictions to protect them from cybersecurity risks. Claims to be necessary. Manufacturers state that if an independent repair shop repairs defective equipment, it could be responsible or harm their reputation.

New repair rights laws and regulations “similar to consumers and manufacturers, including limiting consumer choice, hindering innovation, threatening consumer safety and well-being, and (and) opening the door to counterfeiting. Will bring innumerable harm and unintended consequences. ” The National Association of Manufacturers said in a prepared statement.

Laws to ease repair restrictions are in force in about 25 states, and the European Community is also considering new repair rights regulations.

The repair directive was included in President Joe Biden’s radical executive order issued earlier this month, which he labeled as anti-competitive practice in technology, healthcare, banking, and other key parts of the economy. It is intended for things. The order has 72 actions and recommendations, and Biden said it would lower family prices, raise workers’ wages, promote innovation and faster economic growth. However, new regulations that government agencies may write to translate his policies into rules can lead to epic court battles.

“To be clear, non-competitive capitalism is not capitalism. It’s exploitation,” Biden said at the White House signing ceremony.

The order includes prohibitions or restrictions on so-called non-compete agreements to help raise wages, changes to rules to pave the way for the sale of hearing aids in drugstores, and excessive premature termination by Internet companies. Includes a ban on charges. The Department of Transportation is asking you to consider requesting a refund of your fare if your baggage is delayed or if in-flight service is not provided as advertised.

FTC promises rigorous action to strengthen its “right to repair” | Business

Source link FTC promises rigorous action to strengthen its “right to repair” | Business

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