Nowadays, almost everything has electronics in it—hairbrushes, water bottles, and even suitcases are loaded with e-parts. When that e-stuff breaks, do you know what to do? Probably not, since most manufacturers refuse to share the resources needed to fix them. After all, if you can’t fix it, you’ll just throw it out and get a new one. Right? Right? (Please say no.)
Cue Right to Repair legislation—a new set of badass bills that give you more options when your stuff breaks. In 2021, bills were introduced in 27 different states, and 2022 will see even more action. If passed, they’ll require manufacturers to provide repair documentation and parts to consumers and independent repair shops. Sounds reasonable enough, right? We’re already allowed to take our cars to get fixed at any auto shop we want—so then why can’t we do the same with our devices?
For some reason, a lot of folks don’t see it that way. So I’ll break it down real nice and easy. Here are the top ten reasons why you should care about Right to Repair:
- It doesn’t take a Genius to fix your stuff. Over 100 million people come to iFixit every year to learn how to repair their electronics themselves. Many repairs, like battery and screen swaps, can be done on your own—or even by your kids!
- Repair legislation has been passed once before. The same legislation we’re making noise about has already been passed in the automotive industry: Back in 2012, Massachusetts passed a law requiring auto manufacturers to give repair shops and consumers access to spare parts and diagnostic repair information. All it took was one bill passed in one state, and within two years, it became a federal law.
- Manufacturers are making bank. If you can only go to the manufacturer for a repair, they’ll stick you with a pricey out-of-warranty repair fee. And they’ll make even more money selling you a new device when it breaks. Manufacturers are constantly trying to push you into early upgrades when a replaceable part is broken. But you don’t buy a new car when the battery dies or the tire goes flat—so why would you spend money on a whole new phone when the screen breaks?
- When someone says third-party repair shops can’t be trusted—they’re lying. Manufacturers tend to be picky about what types of repairs they’ll perform. Apple refused to repair or sell parts for repair YouTuber Linus’s one-year-old iMac. For Quinn, another YouTube fixer, the Geniuses mucked up their repair on his iMac and damaged his device! And forget about any micro-soldering—Apple wouldn’t attempt board level repair with a ten-foot pole. Luckily, independent repair technician Jessa Jones has your back for that.
- Mother Nature has had enough of your crap. This year, we’re surpassing 50 million metric tons of e-waste globally. That’s the weight of eight pyramids! Repairing electronics gets them back into the hands of people who can use them—and keeps them out of landfills.
- It isn’t always your fault. Manufacturing defects have led to the recall of millions of phones. Right to Repair would allow for more repair centers, so you don’t have to wait weeks or mail in your device to get a fix from your manufacturer. Was your phone impacted by one of the following issues?
- Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. People need things fixed locally—and Right to Repair creates jobs you can’t ship overseas. There are more than 30,000 independent technicians in the US, representing a $41.3 billion dollar industry, but with millions of devices manufactured daily—30,000 fixers just aren’t enough. If Right to Repair bills pass, there will be even more repair professionals to go around.
- Manufacturers are trying to lock us out of our devices. Manufacturers want to protect their intellectual property. That’s cool—we would, too, if we built the most popular thing on the planet. But you can hold people accountable for stealing your ideas and give consumers the option to fix the things they own. There’s also a big difference between trying to repair a device and stealing intellectual property. Talk to our friend Eric Lundgren. He knows.
- Your livelihood. Think about it. If you have to ship your phone or laptop off to its manufacturer to be fixed, you won’t be able to communicate normally. If you use your devices for work, waiting for a repair could even cause you to lose money—like these farmers.
- The DMCA is so last decade. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed in 1998. Before smart hair brushes were a thing, and people were ripping music like crazy. But now, tech is in everything, so you shouldn’t have to fear litigation for trying to fix things yourself.
Bottom line? You bought it. You own it. And you have the right to fix it, however you damn want. We’ve teamed up with repair activist group Repair.org to make it easy for you to take action. Here’s how you can support Right to Repair in your state.