That this happens so often is no coincidence.
The order won’t be an immediate fix, since the FTC still has to act on Biden’s recommendation. But there are signs that could happen soon.
Wozniak said he believes that companies inhibit third-party repairs “because it gives the companies power, control over everything.”
Why companies restrict repairs
Restricting access to repairs is, in many ways, a smart moneymaking strategy for device manufacturers because it can lead consumers to shell out for new devices more frequently rather than fixing old ones.
For their part, tech companies say that keeping repairs in-house or limited to certain approved partners helps protect consumers’ privacy and the security of their devices, and ensures high quality repairs. They also say that trade-in and recycling programs prevent old devices from ending up in the trash.
Samsung and Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Biden executive order; Microsoft declined to comment.
The case for right-to-repair
While it’s unclear exactly how new rules from the FTC would take shape, advocates want manufacturers to make devices longer-lasting, and to supply parts and detailed manuals to anyone. Such practices could give consumers more options for where to get a device fixed and also lead to more competitive pricing.
The FTC report also found that “the burden of repair restrictions may fall more heavily on communities of color and lower-income communities,” because many independent repair shops are owned by people of color and because high-cost repairs hit low-income consumers harder.