Consumer Watch: The right to repair your device, a new legislative push to change restrictions

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) –– When your car breaks down, you can either take it to the mechanic of your choice or buy the parts from the manufacturer and fix it yourself. But when your phone or other electronics fail, you may not have that option. Now there is a push to change that.

Alexander Degtiarenko fixes phones and other electronic devices. A big part of his business is broken screens and battery replacements. But the repairs he can make are limited because he has to use third party parts. Most phone makers do not sell parts or manuals on how to fix them. “I don’t think it’s fair at all, like, it’s absolutely unfair,” Degtiarenko says.

Kyle Wiens is the CEO of iFixit, which offers repair guides for a range of devices. He says, “Increasingly, manufacturers use all kinds of proprietary techniques to block you from getting into your phones.” According to Wiens, it’s not just phones, it’s difficult to find parts for many electronics. He’s now part of the growing “Right to Repair” movement. “That would require manufacturers to share the parts, tools, and information to fix things,” he says.

More than two dozen states are currently considering Right to Repair legislation. On July 21st, the Federal Trade Commission voted to take on unlawful repair restrictions.

Advocates say a Right to Repair would encourage consumers to fix a device instead of just buying a new one, and that would cut down on waste. Some manufacturers argue against new laws, saying repair restrictions are needed to safeguard software and other intellectual property. But supporters say it’s time for a change. “We all benefit when repairs are more available,” Wiens says. That could include competition that leads to lower repair prices for consumers.

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