California will soon become the 18th state to introduce a “Right to Repair” bill that would give Californians more options in repairing or replacing electronic items.
Introduced by Democratic Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman of Stockton, the bill would make diagnostics, replacement parts, and repair instruction available to both consumers and independent shops, so owners of electronic devices are not forced to submit to sometimes costly manufacturer repairs.
The bill focuses heavily on the impact that right to repair would have, not only on California’s own employment, but on general sustainability as well. “People who can’t afford the high price of manufacturer-based repair services are increasingly forced to prematurely replace durable goods, such as phones, TVs, and appliances,” says the statement on Eggman’s website. “Repairing and reusing electronics is not only a more efficient use of the scarce materials that go into manufacturing the products, but it can also stimulate local economies instead of unsustainable overseas factories.”
The bill has been welcomed by consumer advocacy group Consumers Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, but it’s likely that the bill will face significant opposition from tech giants that have previously fought against similar laws on the grounds of user safety and protecting intellectual property. Similar bills have previously been heavily stalled by such efforts, so it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing this bill passed quickly.
The wider issue of planned obsolescence in mobile technology was recently pushed to fore after it emerged that Apple was purposefully slowing down older devices. After a large pushback from Apple users and lawmakers alike, Apple introduced options that allowed users to turn the option off, and offered free battery replacements to affected models.
While the spectre of “planned obsolescence” still hangs over the tech industry like a sickly miasma, a move towards “Right to Repair” across the U.S. would allow for third-party repair shops to perform repairs that could extend device lifespans, cutting down on the need to upgrade early and saving the precious elements inside such devices from waste.
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California will become the latest in a long line of states to introduce a “Right to Repair” bill that could extend a device’s lifespan, and would allow users more options when fixing broken electronics.