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Federal Trade Commission indicates it will pursue policies that violate consumer, antitrust laws
WASHINGTON -- The Federal Trade Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday, five to zero, to approve a new policy statement that outlines anti-repair practices it will view as illegal. The new guidance comes two weeks after President Joe Biden issued an executive order calling for the FTC to issue new rules to protect the Right to Repair -- and two months after the FTC issued its landmark “Nixing the Fix” report on repair restrictions. That report found many examples of manufacturers’ practices it has now ruled are enforceable violations.
“Manufacturers, be warned: It’s time to clean up your act and let people fix their stuff,” said U.S. PIRG Right to Repair Senior Campaign Director Nathan Proctor. “With unanimous support from commissioners, there’s a new sheriff in town. The FTC is ready to act to stop many of the schemes used to undermine repair, while support is increasing for new legislation to further crack down.”
Among the important features from the new policy statement are:
A pledge to “devote more enforcement resources to combat” any “unlawful repair restrictions.”
The commission announced plans to investigate repair restrictions as violations of antitrust and consumer protection laws that would be targets for enforcement.
Urges the public to report warranty abuse on the type U.S. PIRG Education Fund documented, to ensure manufacturers do not use the threat of a voided warranty to push consumers to use manufacturer-branded repair services. Specifically, “the Commission will consider filing suit against violators” of warranty law meant to protect consumers and repair competition.
“In my eight-plus years serving my community, I’ve seen the number of devices we can prevent from going to landfills by extending their lifecycle, as well as the amount of money our community can save,” said Alex Castillo, owner of DigiTech Electronic Solutions in Roslindale, Mass. “But restrictions are limiting the amount of devices we can save and forcing people to replace expensive devices. This action will help me cut through these restrictions and continue to help my neighbors.”
The commissioners also noted they want to use the FTC to engage more with state lawmaking to help states craft effective Right to Repair laws. Some 27 states have considered such laws so far this year.
“The FTC is no longer on the sidelines. They have pledged to assist states in making Right to Repair improvements, and to tackle illegal behavior from manufacturers. Earlier this year, U.S. PIRG, Repair.org and iFixit delivered more than 15,000 comments asking for the FTC to start taking action to end repair restrictions. Today, the FTC is poised to do just that,” said Proctor.
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