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Sansad TV: Perspective- Right to Repair

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Introduction:

In this day and age, electronic gadgets have become an integral part of our lives… So we buy different kinds of devices with the latest technology, use them for a while and then when it breaks down. We have two choices – we either pay unreasonably high prices to have the manufacturer fix the device or, more likely and something which most of do, is to discard the old one and buy another one. For manufacturers, either of these options is a win-win case, because high priced repairs as well as new sales mean more profits. However, this trend is slowly changing in several parts of the world. Apple recently announced that consumers will have the right to purchase spare components of their products. Google also announced plans to expand access to the parts and tools that consumers need to fix their own devices. These announcements by big-tech companies follow widespread calls for Right To Repair reforms. In fact, Right to Repair Bills have slowly been working their way through legislatures in different countries.

What is it?

  • Activists and organisations around the world have been advocating for the right of consumers to be able to repair their own electronics and other products as part of the ‘right to repair’ movement.
  • The movement traces its roots back to the very dawn of the computer era in the 1950s.
  • It is the right of consumers to be able to repair their own electronics and other products.
  • The goal of the movement is to get companies to make spare parts, tools and information on how to repair devices available to customers and repair shops to increase the lifespan of products and to keep them from ending up in landfills.
  • The movement traces its roots back to the very dawn of the computer era in the 1950s.

 Why did this movement start? What was the motive behind this?

Electronic manufacturers are encouraging a culture of ‘planned obsolescence’ — which means that devices are designed specifically to last a limited amount of time and to be replaced.

Benefits of the Right to Repair:

  • Boost business for small repair shops, which are an important part of local economies.

‘Right to repair’ laws by various countries:

In recent years, countries around the world have been attempting to pass effective ‘right to repair’ laws.

  • USPresident Joe Biden has signed an executive order calling on the Federal Trade Commission to curb restrictions imposed by manufacturers that limit consumers’ ability to repair their gadgets on their own terms.
  • The UKintroduced right-to-repair rules that should make it much easier to buy and repair daily-use gadgets such as TVs and washing machines.

 Opposition:

  • Large tech companies have been lobbying against the right to repair. Their argument is that opening up their intellectual property to third party repair services or amateur repairers could lead to exploitation and impact the safety and security of their devices.
  • Tesla, for instance, has fought against right to repair advocacy, stating that such initiatives threaten data security and cyber security.