The Federal Trade Commission unanimously voted Wednesday to pursue policies that will make it easier for people to repair their own things. In a vote of 5-0 during a Commission Meeting, the FTC agreed to adopt a policy paper outlining how it planned to enforce rules that keep manufacturers from restricting aftermarket repair. It plans to enforce existing warranty law, coordinate with state and local lawmakers to ensure open markets, and investigate the current repair monopolies for violations of antitrust law.
The move comes just weeks after President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing the commission to create right-to-repair rules.
“These types of restrictions can significantly raise costs for consumers, stifle innovation, close off business opportunities for independent repair shops, create unnecessary electronic waste, delay timely repairs and undermine resiliency,” FTC Chairperson Lina Khan said during the meeting. “The FTC has a range of tools it can use to root out unlawful repair restrictions. And today's policy statement would commit us to move forward on this issue with new vigor.”
The FTC policy paper outlined a five-pronged approach to the problem. First, it’s asking for comments and complaints from the public about bad experiences it’s had with repair issues and violated warranty. It’s long been illegal under federal law for companies to void warranties based on aftermarket repairs. The problem is that those laws often aren’t enforced, though the FTC did take some action on manufacturers who put warranty-void-if-removed stickers on their devices after Motherboard reported on the problem several years ago.