Big Tech Guide for State Lawmakers: Adopt a “Right to Repair” Law for Consumer Electronics
By Pat Garofalo
Corporations like Apple prevent consumers who purchased devices such as iPhones from repairing them at home or at independently owned shops; instead, they force consumers to bring their devices to authorized repair shops, which are required to buy parts only from specific vendors, or to Apple’s own repair facilities. Many consumer electronics are rife with predatory designs that make repairing them functionally impossible outside of official channels, and corporations make software diagnostic tools unavailable to unauthorized repair facilities.
This exclusivity drives up costs for consumers, who spend hundreds of dollars per year to repair devices – or simply purchase new ones because repair is so difficult – than they would if repair services were more widely available. According to an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, it’s clear that corporate repair restrictions “steered consumers into manufacturers’ repair networks or to replace products before the end of their useful lives.” Repair restrictions also drive down local employment and increase e-waste, according to various studies.
State legislators in more than half of U.S. states have introduced bills giving consumers the right to repair various products, including digital electronics, which would force manufacturers to share diagnostic designs and information and sell parts to independent repair shops. A 2012 right-to-repair bill aimed at the auto industry in Massachusetts successfully set national standards for the industry.
SF 64, Minnesota, 2019-2020
Big Tech corporations such as Apple, Microsoft, and Google lobby heavily against state and federal efforts to implement right-to-repair legislation. They claim that laws giving consumers more repair options will result in harms to privacy and expose consumers to unscrupulous repair facilities. However, the FTC found in its investigation that “there is scant evidence to support manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions.”
 “Nixing the Fix: An FTC Report to Congress on Repair Restrictions,” Federal Trade Commission, May 2021, https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/nixing-fix-ftc-report-congress-repair-restrictions/nixing_the_fix_report_final_5521_630pm-508_002.pdf.
 Daniel A. Hanley, Claire Kelloway, and Sandeep Vaheesan, “Fixing America: Breaking Manufacturers’ Aftermarket Monopoly and Restoring Consumers’ Right to Repair,” Open Markets Institute, April 2020, https://static1.squarespace.com/Report_RightToRepair_HanleyKellowayVaheesan-1.pdf.
 Nathan Proctor, “Half of U.S. states looking to give Americans the Right to Repair,” U.S. PIRG, March 10, 2021, https://uspirg.org/blogs/blog/usp/half-us-states-looking-give-americans-right-repair.
 Brian X. Chen, “Why You Should Care About Your Right to Repair Gadgets,” The New York Times, July 14, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/14/technology/personaltech/right-to-repair-iphones-android.html.
 FTC, “Nixing the Fix.”