Bills target corporate efforts to thwart product repairs – Sunbury Daily Item | CarTailz

WASHINGTON — After Dyani Chapman’s refrigerator broke, her landlord replaced it with a new one, a cheaper route than repairing the original. When her phone’s screen shattered, Chapman faced a similar dilemma.

“When I went in and asked to have it fixed,” repairing the screen almost cost the bill for a new phone, Chapman, state director of Alaska Environment, told an advocacy group. “It’s not even worth it.”

In an era of almost ubiquitous electronics, Chapman’s experience is common.

You buy a gadget. You use it until it breaks. You go to the company that makes it. The company will offer to fix it or sell you a new device for a similar price. New gadget in hand, you use this one until it breaks and the cycle repeats itself.

While this loop has helped catapult discarded electronics into the nation’s fastest-growing source of waste, according to the EPA, there is a bipartisan congressional interest behind legislation to make it easier for ordinary people to fix what they own, a potential boon for them Consumers and consumers’ surroundings.

After decades of providing instructions, replacement parts, and how-to’s for customers who wanted to fix a broken tool or machine, manufacturers often don’t, proponents say, adding that the original makers of a given product often direct their customers to themselves or refer back to approved third-party repair shops.

“It’s so easy for manufacturers to block repairs,” said Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of The Repair Association, an impartial network of companies that advocates for state and federal “right-to-repair” laws Interview.

Gordon-Byrne, who worked in the computer industry, said a turning point came in 2010 when the computer company Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems and then blocked the option for independent repairs for Sun-made equipment. “Oracle pissed people off in 2010 when it acquired Sun Microsystems,” Gordon-Byrne said.

Opposite Gordon-Byrne and other supporters, which include farmers, ranchers, hobbyists, hobbyists, consumer advocates and environmentalists, are electronics and heavy equipment manufacturing companies who say passing repair legislation violates their intellectual property and the rural regional U.S. harming the economy would pose security issues.

“The dangers of someone remotely hacking into a machine for nefarious purposes, or of an opponent of the United States having access to this technology, has far-reaching security and economic implications,” said Ken Taylor, president of a heavy equipment company in Ohio, to the House Small business committee in September.

Though two states — Colorado and New York — have passed Right-to-Repair legislation, lawmakers in 25 are considering it, according to The Repair Association, and there are bills in the House and Senate that would target a variety of industries, including farm equipment, electronics and automobiles.

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Joseph D. Morelle, DN.Y., legislated that electronics companies must share diagnostic, repair, and maintenance records with owners and third-party repair shops.

“This pandemic has increased our need to be self-sufficient and to be able to fix our own devices, especially when major retailers are forced to close,” Morelle said as he introduced the bill.

The Federal Trade Commission, an independent agency, would be tasked with enforcing Morelle’s bill and other state repair laws.

At a House Rules Committee hearing in September, Morelle said there was a “fundamental idea” that whoever owns a product owns everything about it, including the privilege to fix it.

Rep. Michael C. Burgess, R-Tex., called Morelle’s bill “a useful starting point for discussion,” adding that it’s “interesting that the Right to Repair debate doesn’t split neatly along partisan lines.”


High cost of repairing electronics and increasing corporate control over repair processes has led to a surge in e-waste or e-waste and an increasing demand for raw materials.

“By encouraging replacement rather than repair, manufacturers’ monopolization of aftermarkets contributes to environmental degradation and resource depletion,” said Sandeep Vaheesan, legal director of the Open Markets Institute. “Reducing the average life cycle of a car by just one year may mean millions more cars are sent to landfill and manufactured over a decade.”

E-waste also contains toxic materials such as lead and lithium, which can leach into water and soil. Then there’s the air. “When these electronics are burned, the toxins are released into the air and contribute to a number of serious diseases, including cancer,” Vaheesan said.

About 50 million tons of e-waste or e-waste are dumped around the world every year, according to a 2019 United Nations report, which found that the waste exceeds the weight of all commercial aircraft ever made.

According to the non-partisan Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), 85 percent of smartphone greenhouse gas emissions come from their manufacture, and their production consumes hundreds of tons of raw materials. “A single phone produces the equivalent of warming the planet, 122.7 pounds of carbon dioxide,” the group said.

According to PIRG’s Nathan Proctor, Americans throw away about 416,000 cell phones every day.

“More than 162 Empire State Buildings worth of electronics are disposed of each year,” said Lisa Frank of Environment America.

A bill by Rep. Bobby L. Rush, D-Ill., would allow owners to access data about their cars and aftermarket parts, while Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., introduced a bipartisan auto-specific repair law. Representatives Mondaire Jones, DN.Y., and Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., have their own electronics repair procedures.

“Farmers work under tight windows and tight margins, and they simply cannot afford to waste time or money taking their equipment to a dealer-authorized mechanic in the middle of the season,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D -Mont. who has an agricultural repair bill. Sens. Cynthia Lummis, a Wyoming Republican, and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico and Ron Wyden of Oregon have also taken an interest in their own repair legislation.


Federal disclosures show trade groups and companies involved in the manufacture of electronics, video games, home appliances, heavy machinery, medical equipment and automobiles, among others, lobbied for repair bills this year.

“Repair mandates undermine intellectual property laws designed to protect video game devices and the actual games themselves in a way that increases security concerns and weakens critical anti-piracy features needed to ensure the best consumer experience” , said a spokesman for the Entertainment Software Association. a video game lobby.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers, which represents companies like Cummins, Sherwin-Williams, Yokohama, Caterpillar, John Deere and Chemours, said farm equipment is being engineered today to make it safer, more reliable and more efficient.

“Farmers should always have the right to repair their own equipment and that is why comprehensive repair and diagnostic information is now available for the vast majority of the tractor and combine market,” AEM said in an emailed statement.

“Unfortunately, the so-called ‘right to repair’ legislation that special interests are pushing for is not at all about giving farmers the right to repair their own equipment,” the group said in its statement, “but instead about illegal ones.” Tampering with equipment that endangers the safety, durability and environmental compatibility of agricultural equipment.”

Daniel Fisher, senior vice president of government and external affairs at Associated Equipment Distributors, which represents agriculture, mining, construction, electric power and forestry companies, said his organization opposes the right-to-fix legislation.

“The bills, if passed, will have serious environmental, security, legal, economic, intellectual property and cybersecurity implications,” Fisher said, without citing specific legislation. “The application of right-to-repair proposals to the equipment industry is based on the false narrative that customers are unable to repair their own tractors and machinery.”

President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 14036 in July 2021, which directed the FTC to “prosecute unfair anticompetitive restrictions on the repair or self-repair of items by third parties, such as those restrictions imposed by powerful manufacturers that prevent farmers from making their own.” repair equipment.”

The FTC began soliciting public input on October 17 for a potential rule requiring manufacturers to provide repair manuals for major home appliances and other consumer products, and last year released a comprehensive report on the right to repair.

Separately, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., chair of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce, asked the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to investigate consumer access to repairs.

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