KEY INSIGHTS

  • The Right to Repair movement provides information and parts for DIY electronics repair. 
  • Over 20 states have active Rights to repair bills in 2021.
  • In 2022, Apple and Microsoft will conduct studies and expand self-repair resources.

As technology consumption continues to grow, so does the need for maintenance. The rise of the right-to-repair movement has peaked as products become more challenging to repair. Black communities could gain greater access to electronics from Big tech companies’ do-it-yourself (DIY) programs. 


“The right to repair will help Black users as they don't have that much access to expensive electronics like phones, laptops, or others,” Sarah Kiran, Chief Editor of Good Cloud Storage, a company monitoring over 20 cloud storage, told The Plug. “It will help them prevent irrelevant expenditure on batteries, screens, or other electronic materials.”


According to a Wirecutter report, the Right-To-Repair act allows consumers the choice to repair their products themselves or have a technician fix them. Those Warranty-void stickers on the side of the products was a temporary solution under the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, which directs the Federal Trade Commission to establish disclosure standards for written warranties.


The right-to-repair movement provides information and parts for DIY electronics repair. The Repair Association, a right-to-repair advocacy group, has several policy objectives including some that can be corrected with new laws and others that require a shift in buyer expectations. Access to information and parts are the main focus of legislative proposals. 


Legislation like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows a device to run custom software, thus extending battery life or functionality if the manufacturer abandons that device. Some exemptions are possible but those modifications may not be possible. 


Most states in the midwest have an active right-to-repair law, but southern states like Georgia and Alabama only recently introduced the bill, according to Repair.org. Over 20 states have active Rights to repair bills as of 2021. Whether the bill will be passed into law remains up for debate at the state legislature level. However, Repair.org makes it simple to contact an individual state and voice concerns on the right to repair with legislators. 


Some big tech companies are implementing programs for consumers to fix everyday electronic devices.


Tesla has its Do-it-yourself guides for the Model 3, S and X for basic procedures and maintenance. Some procedures include connecting to wifi or starting the car using a Tesla mobile app. The company also released its parts catalogs for the Model 3 during the DIY releases. Some technicians like Rich Beniot take repairing to another level by fixing worn-out Telsa vehicles. 


“A fundamental consumer right is fixing whatever you rightfully own,” Beniot said in a Motherboard interview. “There’s a lot of grey area when it comes to owning these cars because, in order for the major functions in the car to work, they have to talk to Tesla.”


Benoit’s car maintenance pursuits are protected under Michigan’s right to repair act. However, specific guidelines like using the tools car dealerships use, make it more difficult for consumers of electronic or developing vehicles to have work done. 


Apple’s self-service repair program allows iPhone and Mac users to buy their parts, according to an Apple statement. The program has been years in the making and introduced while the right to repair legislation is being proposed. The program is set in phases starting with the iPhone 12 and 13 and moving to other Apple products. 


“By repairing devices rather than throwing them away, you’re not only minimizing the amount of waste that ends up in a landfill, but also you’re saving the finite materials that are used in the construction of smartphones.” Eoin Piggott, Business Development Associate of Wisetek, an information technology asset company, told The Plug.


This accessible extension goes back to the Independent Repair Provider program — which launched in the U.S. in 2019 and aimed to give independent repair shops access to the same resources as authorized service providers — has grown to more than 200 countries and now includes more than 2,800 providers.


Similar to Apple, Microsoft recently promised to look into the right to repair, according to a Verge report. Using an independent third-party study, the company will examine the impacts of making Microsoft product repairs easier. The study will be complete by late 2022 and the results will be used as a guide to expanding repair options. The report notes that Microsoft will release a summary but not the complete study to the public.


States and individuals are increasing awareness of consumer rights to fix their electronics. Black users and technicians can have more opportunities to use more high-end electronics if given the information and tools they need.