A real reason to distrust big tech: its opposition to right-to-repair laws
There are plenty of bad reasons to dislike how big technology companies do business. But one criticism that should stick – and rankle – is how some tech giants, and a host of other manufacturing companies, work to block even the mildest of right-to repair laws.
For years, technology companies have imposed strict limits on who can fix chipped iPhones, broken game consoles and a wealth of other non-working (or defective) gadgets. Components are kept in short supply or simply not shared with independent shops to mend things like USB ports and batteries. After seeing these restrictions firsthand, [repair shop owner Justin] Millman joined a cadre of small business owners, hobbyists and activists pushing right-to-repair bills across the country. These measures are designed to undo rules businesses set to restrict repairs to authorized providers for a vast range of products from a Kindle to a wheelchair.
Why would manufacturers try to block independent repairs? The tech companies have a handy list of talking points, ranging from the crude to the absurd:
…right-to-repair laws would let pirates rip off intellectual property and expose consumers to security risks. In several statehouses, lobbyists told lawmakers that unauthorized repair shops could damage batteries on devices, posing a threat of spontaneous combustion.
The bottom line is companies, from tech to cars and bunch in-between, don’t want to give up the repair revenue stream. That’s the best case. A worse case is repairing old items cuts into revenue for new items.
Right-to-repair laws, then, push back against what is otherwise a naked attempt to manipulate markets and destroy competition. It’s regrettable such corrective measures are necessary. It’s much worse that companies have been so successful at blocking them.