In May, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a report about “anti-competitive repair restrictions” in the US, including multiple concerns about Apple’s business practices around iPhone. Now the Biden administration is expected to ask the FTC to write up new rules that could expand the ability for individuals and independent shops to perform smartphone repairs and more.
Reported by Bloomberg, sources close to the matter have shared that President Biden will be asking the FTC to write a draft for new Right to Repair rules.
The draft is expected to include new laws around repairing smartphones, game consoles, and even tractors that have become digitized over the past years.
While the agency will ultimately decide the size and scope of the order, the presidential right-to-repair directive is expected to mention mobile phone manufacturers and Department of Defense contractors as possible areas for regulation.
White House economic advisor Brian Deese recently said that the yet-to-be-drafted rules will be aimed at creating “greater competition in the economy, in service of lower prices for American families and higher wages for American workers.”
In its May report, the FTC specifically called out Apple over its authorized independent repair program and locking hardware components to its logic boards making repairs uneconomic or sometimes impossible.
Apple has fought Right to Repair bills at the state level various times over the years with its stance usually resting on concerns around safety and security (my colleague Ben has written about the pros and cons of Apple’s tight hardware integration).
Meanwhile, critics say Apple keeping a tight hold on iPhone repairs is bad for consumers, independent businesses, and the environment. Back in 2019 iFixit even launched an “I’m a Genius” campaign to encourage the masses to repair their own devices.
Notably, the UK just introduced a new Right to Repair law but as it happens, it excluded smartphones and computers. We’ll have to wait and see what the Right to Repair draft looks like from the FTC and how it could impact Apple in the US.
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