Do You Have the Right to Repair Your Own Electronics?

Apple, Microsoft, Verizon and a host of other tech companies all have something in common: They don’t want you to repair your damaged devices on your own. You might think that buying a TV or a smartphone gives you the right to fix it — or at least to bring it to a knowledgeable, independent repair shop. Currently, however, that isn’t how most tech companies see it.

From a manufacturer’s perspective, providing you or your repairperson the parts and information needed to repair your devices is an act of leaking valuable intellectual property. It may make them vulnerable to hackers interested in exploiting this knowledge or stealing data from users. Unfortunately, the result of such policies is that manufacturing companies now have a monopoly on repairs. With this kind of monopoly, repairs are typically more expensive or unavailable, forcing consumers to replace old devices at a rapid rate. The unnecessary electronic waste this policy creates is extensive. Additionally, independent repair shops that used to thrive are now struggling to stay open.

Across the country, legislators are proposing bills that would grant the “Right to Repair.” If these laws pass, they will require electronics manufacturers to offer any necessary tools, parts and repair guides for all of their products. Consumers will have more affordable repair options, and the amount of devices tossed each year could decrease significantly. In California, a Right to Repair Act has been introduced by Assemblymember Susan Eggman of Stockton. Learn more about this ongoing issue from Consumer Reports.