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3/4 of Canadians would support law enforcing 'Right to Repair' electronic devices: survey

Last Updated Jun 12, 2019 at 2:35 pm PDT

FILE - Customers look at iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus phones at an Apple Store in San Francisco on September 22, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jeff Chiu
Summary

The inability to repair an electronic device is often built into the design

Companies use restrictive design, software locks or monopolies on information and parts to prevent fixes

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Fixing a broken phone or appliance can be extremely expensive, so much so, many people often just throw them out and buy new ones.

But a new poll suggests three quarters of Canadians would support a “Right to Repair” law in Canada, forcing manufacturers to make it easier to mend things on the fritz.

Rodrigo Samayoa is with Open Media, an organization that advocates for open internet. He says the inability to repair an electronic device is often built into the design.

“We have seen a trend in the past decade or two, where manufacturers are making it increasingly difficult to repair products you own, whether this be your smartphone, a computer, or even things like watches,” he says.

Companies like Apple and John Deere are notorious, Samayoa says, for using things like restrictive design and software locks to make it difficult for independent repair shops and consumers to fix their items.

“They are using restrictive design, for example using non-standard screws or glues to make it impossible to open your device,” he explains. “They are also using software logs to make it impossible to add new generic parts to the products you get.”

Manufacturers can also monopolize parts and repair information. Samayoa says this gives big companies too much control over the things that consumers own, and it’s also putting repair companies out of work.

“It’s increasing the price of repairs, it’s putting a lot of small businesses out of business, and it’s making it harder for us to repair our products, which means we often have to resort to buying new ones, creating a massive e-waste problem.”