from the not-really-a-democracy dept
On both the state and federal level, a flood of new bills are targeting companies’ efforts to monopolize repair by implementing obnoxious DRM, making repair tools and manuals hard to find, bullying independent repair shops (like Apple does), or forcing tractor owners to drive hundreds of miles just to get their tractor repaired (one of John Deere’s favorite pastimes).
But in California, efforts to pass a right to repair law recently ran into headwinds despite overwhelming public support for the measure. SB 983 would have dramatically boosted state residents’ and small repair shop’s ability to access to parts, tools, and service information needed to fix consumer electronics and appliances, lowering costs for consumers and reducing overall waste.
75% of Californians and majorities of both political parties support right to repair. And while this effort was the closest a right to repair effort has gotten to becoming law, it still couldn’t overcome lobbying influence according to CALPIRG:
“Sadly, the powerful tech manufacturers won out over the everyday Californians and small businesses that would benefit from Right to Repair. SB 983 could have saved California households as much as $4.3 billion a year in reduced spending on electronics and helped Californians reduce toxic electronic waste. Instead, industry groups’ heavy lobbying effort helped to kill the bill.”
As usual, industry reps like Technet tried to paint the right to repair effort as a threat to consumer safety and privacy in local media:
“Consumers, businesses of all sizes, schools and hospitals need to know that the people who repair their products will do so safely, securely and correctly,” Dylan Hoffman, TechNet’s Executive Director of California and the Southwest, said in a statement. “So-called ‘right-to-repair’ bills would result in serious harm to consumers’ privacy and safety by providing sensitive security information and equipment to anyone who wants it, regardless of whether they’ve been trained, certified, or vetted.”
Dominant companies looking to monopolize repair routinely trot out all kinds of false, scary stories to justify their behavior and opposition to these bills, including claims the laws will help sexual predators or turn states into diabolical meccas for hackers. Despite the claims being false, they provide companies just enough flimsy cover in corrupt state legislatures to scuttle bills that have broad public support.
A CALPIRG survey of 63 local repair shops found that 59% said they might have to close without the bill passing. We talk endlessly about our support for small businesses. And we talk endlessly about the need to embrace policies that aid the environment. And we talk endlessly about the benefits of American democracy and the power of the vote. Yet here we are again, with beneficial, hugely popular bills on the cutting room floor because some big companies didn’t want their power challenged.
Filed Under: california, consumer rights, fix it, freedom to tinker, lobbying, ownership, right to repair