President Joe Biden is reportedly gearing up to issue an executive order compelling the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to draft new “right to repair” rules — a set of regulations that will protect consumers’ ability to repair their equipment on their own and at independent shops.
While the FTC will get to decide the final shape of the forthcoming rules, Bloomberg reports that the recommended language will specifically cite mobile phone manufacturers and defense contractors as potential areas for regulation. Under the current policies, consumers — and the farming industry, specifically — are oftentimes prohibited from making repairs on their own devices thanks to software locks, end-user license agreements, and the use of proprietary parts that have functionally formed repair “monopolies” that small business owners are forced to resort to using when they need their equipment fixed.
As Motherboard reports, activists have lobbied for years for state-level legislation that would make it easier for the average person to repair their own devices, but have historically faced opposition from companies like Caterpillar, John Deere, and Apple, which have used aggressive lobbying tactics to ensure that there are as many logistical hurdles in place as possible in order to all but ensure that self-repairs are unfeasible.
If and when Biden does release new guidance — as he expected to in the coming days — it will be the first time in U.S. history that a president has intervened in the repair monopoly issue.
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