U.S. FTC Commits to Fighting Against Unlawful Repair Restrictions

The United States Federal Trade Commission today announced that it is committed to devoting more of its resources to fight against unlawful repair restrictions in a move that has the potential to impact Apple in the future.

apple independent repair program
Earlier this month, U.S. President Joe Biden called on the FTC to create new right to repair rules that will prevent manufacturers from limiting consumers and businesses from repairing their own electronic devices. The FTC today followed up with a policy statement [PDF] and said that it plans to prioritize investigations into unlawful repair restrictions.

Restricting consumers and businesses from choosing how they repair products can substantially increase the total cost of repairs, generate harmful electronic waste, and unnecessarily increase wait times for repairs. In contrast, providing more choice in repairs can lead to lower costs, reduce e-waste by extending the useful lifespan of products, enable more timely repairs, and provide economic opportunities for entrepreneurs and local businesses.

The FTC is urging the public to submit complaints and provide information to aid in its enforcement of right to repair options, and it will consider filing suit against those who violate the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act in addition to scrutinizing repair restrictions for violation of antitrust laws.

The FTC also plans to monitor private litigation to look for opportunities to investigate unfair repair practices, working with state law enforcement and policymakers to update existing laws and regulations.

The Commission will bring an interdisciplinary approach to this issue, using resources and expertise from throughout the agency to combat unlawful repair restrictions. The FTC will also closely coordinate with state law enforcement and policymakers to ensure compliance and to update existing law and regulation to advance the goal of open repair markets.

In a statement, FTC Chair Lina Khan said that the FTC has a "range of tools" that can be used to "root out unlawful repair restrictions" and the new policy statement commits the FTC to "move forward on this issue with new vigor."

It's not yet clear how Apple might be impacted, but the company has fought against Right to Repair bills that have been proposed in multiple U.S. states. Apple claims that allowing independent repair shops to work on Apple devices without oversight could lead to security, safety and quality issues.

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Top Rated Comments

rizzo41999 Avatar
38 months ago
I'm all for this.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zakarhino Avatar
38 months ago

So what is "unlawful" ?
A company dictating who can and cannot service my property.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple_Robert Avatar
38 months ago
Apple may not have enough money to stop this particular bus from picking up more passengers and more momentum.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ouimetnick Avatar
38 months ago

What about the small sweat shops for repair business in China and all across the world? Sounds like a controlled substance in the U.S.

Apple should just focus on making the devices more complicated to even repair them. Same concept can be applied to Apple products.

For example: You don’t see a Ferrari or Lamborghini at a small repair shop. They always end up in a certified dealership. Same goes with Tesla’s vehicle.
Actually I see a lot of Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Porsche vehicles at small specialized repair shops. I see RX-7s and RX-8s at small shops that specialize in rotary engines as well.

No intelligent person would bring a out of warranty vehicle to the dealership unless it’s for a recall. The smarter driver brings their car to a trusted mechanic, and if it’s a high end car, they bring it to a shop that specializes in that brand.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zakarhino Avatar
38 months ago

I understand why Apple doesn’t want “authorized” shops repairing their products. Someone at the mall misdiagnoses the problem, slaps in a cheap battery, and sends them on their way. Phone overheats, kiosk repair service is gone, and then they blame Apple for it. Of course this is a fringe case, but I have heard of people doing that down here in FL (a repair shop technician with his own business verified this).

On the other hand, there’s no reason someone in a humid, temperate climate should be accused of “water damage” and then being charged for a whole new computer. Or, hell, a faulty display cable warranting an entirely new screen.
The "independent repair shops will slap in bad components" argument wouldn't be a thing if those independent repair shops were allowed to source high quality OEM parts in the first place. Louis Rossmann has to use 'donor boards' to repair other Macs for this very reason.

It's perfect for Apple. They lock down the entire component supply forcing independent repair shops to utilize less than ideal parts then point the finger and say "See, look how bad those repair shops are!"

Personally I'm never taking my devices in to Apple themselves if I can help it, I'll always pick a reputable independent repair shop. Some are Apple certified (which means they have to do things the Apple way such as replacing the entire motherboard for one broken chip), some are not.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nt5672 Avatar
38 months ago
We only need small improvements to correct Apple's self centered, 1990's Microsoft emulating, condescending, nanny motivations; which are replaceable batteries; memory, and SSDs. These items wear out and need to be smart user replaceable.

Sure there are some users that should never even contemplate replacements, but it is not Apple's responsibility to protect them from themselves. At least not in a free and open society.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)