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  • YouthLINE

Right to Repair

Many aspiring tech enthusiasts who want to become experts in the tech industry and be more knowledgeable about tech devices are sometimes limited to what they can do with their devices, like a smartphone. Many people are not aware that their devices have certain repair limitations. If their devices have some hardware difficulties, they may not fix them without the manufacturer's help. In addition, did you know that we all have a right to repair? That's right, we as people have the right to revise our broken devices. However, some of the limitations that manufacturers place on their devices make them difficult to repair. So the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) decided to step up and do something about it.

On July 21st, the FTC all voted unanimously to question the strict restrictions put by manufacturers, which makes independent reparations more difficult. They argue that some of these restrictions may be illegal under specific antitrust laws and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which protects product warranties. Now, the FTC is trying to get rid of "illegal repair restrictions." This vote is to address multiple tech companies about their restrictions, one of them being Apple, which has long been making products with non-removable batteries and memory and sealing the phones with a specific adhesive not available to the public. In addition, certain spare parts are not obtainable other than the manufacturer, which also doesn't allow third parties to fix the device. These restrictions make smaller businesses specializing in their practice to repair smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices more difficult because they cannot get the spare parts.

This vote wasn't just for tech industry manufacturers but for all kinds of manufacturers, from automobiles to medical equipment. Some hospitals have reported they have been unable to fix some of their equipment due to manufacturer restrictions. In addition, some tractor manufacturers also prevent their tractors from operating if there's a failure, and the only way to repair them is using the manufacturer's tools, parts, and software, which makes it more difficult for farmers to fix their machinery.

These restrictions have also affected the quarantine regarding work from home and schoolwork. "The nation started this school year with a vast laptop shortage; we were reportedly five million short at one point," Commissioner Rohit Chopra said. "The start to remote learning, already so astoundingly difficult, was worsened by unnecessary repair restrictions on refurbishing computers, leaving those students without computer access unable to learn."

Fixing and tinkering with devices should be more open to the public and more accessible for people to learn and better understand how the machines work and give jobs to small businesses. Some of these restrictions put by manufacturers could even mean a life or death situation regarding medical equipment.


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