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When was the last time you visited a local repair shop to get your smartphone fixed? Your answer will likely be long ago. The proposed government legislation, known as the Right to Repair, seeks to


When was the last time you visited a local repair shop to get your smartphone fixed? Your answer will likely be long ago. The proposed government legislation, known as the Right to Repair, seeks to eliminate any obstacles that would stop consumers from fixing or altering their own products.  Debates have been going on all across the globe on whether a consumer should possess the right to get their device repaired. Let’s take an example to understand this situation better, suppose for instance you bought a smartphone a few years ago but due to its continuous use over a long period its battery health has deteriorated and you constantly keep running into troubles due to its short battery life. The smartphone is perfectly fine and the only issue you are encountering is its short battery life. What possible solutions you can brainstorm? Chances are that you’re thinking of getting your smartphone replaced with a new one. But what if I tell you there’s a more efficient and affordable alternative to deal with this? Would you still be willing to expend your money to get a new one? Probably not. Let’s take a dig into the issue.


The idea of the ‘Right to Repair’ movement is said to have originated from the implementation of the right to repair law for the automotive sector in 2012, which required automobile manufacturers to sell the same service materials and diagnostics directly to consumers or independent mechanics as they used to provide exclusively to their dealerships. Following this incident, many countries took the initiative to advance in this direction. E.g., the European Parliament granted customers the right to repair their electronics in 2017.  It became a turning point for the movement when Apple gave in to the pressures of the ‘Right to Repair’ movement and was compelled to open its first repair centre in the U.S. The UK enacted the right-to-repair law in 2021 by implementing ‘Ecodesign for energy-related products and energy information regulations’ to increase gadget lifecycles to 10 years. In 2022, New York became the first state in the U.S. to implement a Right to Repair law that covered consumer electronics by enacting the Digital Fair Repair Act.


When we don’t possess the Right to Repair, then we don’t possess complete ownership of the thing, as the restrictions deny us the ability to modify the thing or get it fixed according to our needs. Not having the ‘Right to Repair’ users are left with only one option which is to replace the old one with a new one which not only leads to the creation of large amounts of e-waste but also we end up spending large sums of money that could have been saved. Not having the ‘Right to Repair’ will lead to the monopoly in the market by bigger manufacturers, not allowing the small repair shops to function properly which will lead to job losses. Bigger manufacturers have constantly been employing different malpractices in the market to maintain their monopoly which includes – avoiding the issuance of manuals that help users repair on their own, and encouraging the culture of planned obsolescence. The term ‘planned obsolescence’ was first used by Brooks Stevens in 1954, who was an american industrial designer. Planned obsolescence is a system where the product is designed in such a way that it lasts for a particular time only and after that particular period, the product has to be replaced necessarily.


Though the good outweighs the bad of implementing the Right to repair, it still has some negative impacts which need to be mentioned. Allowing the users to fix the devices by themselves or by any third party can be dangerous at times as it may cause accidents that can be grave. These accidents will impact the user as well as the reputation of the manufacturer. As we’re evolving with time the products are evolving along with us and they are getting more and more complex day-by-day which means more care has to be taken while repairing things or else the improperly repaired things can malfunction.


Companies like – Facebook, Toyota, and Verizon lobbied against this law in New York in 2018. Even companies like – Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Tesla Inc. have spent huge sums of money on lobbyists to make a case that these laws would expose industry secrets, and give third parties access to sensitive information.


In India, as of now, there is no law governing the right to repair but the Competition Commission of India has concluded in the case of Shamsherv. Honda Siel Cars India Ltd., that exclusive access to spare parts only to the authorized repairers of vehicle manufacturers amounted to an-anti competitive practice. A committee being chaired by Nidhi Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs has been set up by the department of consumer affairs to develop a right-to-repair framework in the country. Its first meeting was held on 13th July 2022, wherein important sectors for the right to repair were identified which include – Farming Equipment, Mobile Phones/ Tablets, Consumer Durables, and Automobiles/ Automobile Equipment. The germane issues highlighted during the meeting include malpractices that help establish the monopoly on the repair processes which in turn leads to the infringement of customers’ “Right to Choose”. Recently a ‘Right to Repair’ portal has been launched by Food and Consumer Affairs Minister, Piyush Goyal, where manufacturers will share a manual of product details with the users so that they can get it repaired by themselves or by any third party instead of depending on original manufacturers.


If the framework is rolled out not only it’ll help in employment generation by supporting small repair shops which in turn will help the local economy grow but also it’ll help recycle lots of e-waste. It’ll also help to increase the life cycle of the products. It will be in favour of both the consumers as well as the environment hence, India too should consider implementing the right to repair.

Author(s) Name: Raunak Uday (National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi)