Right to repair move gets backing from President Biden

US president Joe Biden commends Apple and Microsoft for voluntarily improving consumers' right to repair.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

President Biden has voiced his support for American consumers' right to repair broken electronics after signing an executive order in July aimed at curtailing vendor repair restrictions. 

Biden also commended Apple and Microsoft for voluntarily changing their policies ahead of new federal pro-competition rules, including the right to repair. 

"Apple and Microsoft are changing their policies so folks will be able to repair their phones and laptops themselves — although I'm not sure I know how to do that," he said.

Biden signed an executive order in July that targeted smartphone makers and electronics makers that block out independent repair shops. The president also called on the Federal Trade Commission to issue rules against anticompetitive restrictions on using independent repair shops, which the FTC unanimously agreed to follow through with and vowed to prioritize investigations into unlawful repair restrictions.   

Biden commented on the right to repair at a cabinet meeting on Monday.

"Too many areas… if you own a product, from a smartphone to a tractor, you don't have the freedom to choose how or where to repair that item you purchased," he said, adding that some manufacturers void the warranty if you try to fix something yourself, while consumers are stuck with repair costs at the "dealer's price". 

The right to repair movement has grown significantly in recent years. The UK introduced right to repair rules last July while European Commission is planning to introduce a right to repair proposal targeting 'fair prices' in 2022. John Deere and the gaming industry associations recently opposed right to repair efforts underway in Australia by its competition regulator, often on the grounds it would erode intellectual property protections.    

"Denying the right to repair raises prices for consumers, means independent repair shops can't compete for your business," said Biden. 

Microsoft in December released three tools to make it simpler for independent repair shops to scale up repairs of some Surface notebook components.  A month earlier, Apple launched the Self Service Repair program, which included repair manuals and parts, following shareholder pressure on environmental grounds.  

"It's going to make it easier for millions of Americans to repair their electronics instead of paying an arm and a leg to repair or just throwing the device out," said Biden. 

Editorial standards