“Right to repair” is about more than DIY
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When iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens explains the “right to repair,” he looks to a farm near his home on California’s central coast.
“They tell me if they need to replace the transmission in their F-150 pickup, they can. If they needed to do that exact same repair on their John Deere tractors, they can’t because John Deere won’t give them the software,” Wiens said. “They can physically install a new transmission, but they can’t make it work.”
The same principle applies to the billion iPhones out in the world. If the phone’s glass backing breaks, Wiens said, the only way to get a replacement is take it back to Apple — and it’s not cheap. You might be tempted to just buy a new one instead.
Wiens’ company provides repair instructions, parts and tools for all kinds of devices, so he has both an ideological and financial interest in empowering people to fix their own stuff. It’s an idea that’s gaining political steam. President Joe Biden directed the Federal Trade Commission to draft rules limiting companies’ ability to restrict repairs, and some 27 states are considering their own legislation, with bipartisan support.
You might not want to get under the hood of a tractor (or an iPhone), but on today’s show Wiens talks us through the wide-ranging implications of right to repair — for competition, for the environment and for the long-term value of the stuff we buy. We’ll also talk about the roadblocks to the right to repair movement’s big moment.
Later in the show, we’ll talk about what happened to Lordstown Motors’ electric car dream and get some listener feedback on last week’s episodes. Plus, European Union Commissioner Margrethe Vestager answers the Make Me Smart question.
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Here’s everything we talked about today:
- Wiens’ op-ed in The Washington Post today
- “I replaced my iPhone battery myself. Here’s what happened” from CNET
- “Tesla’s $16,000 Quote for a $700 Fix Is Why Right to Repair Matters” from the Drive
- “President Joe Biden’s latest executive order is a huge win for right to repair” from the Verge
- “Apple Is Lobbying Against Your Right to Repair iPhones, New York State Records Confirm” from Vice
- “Microsoft played key role in stopping ‘Right to Repair‘ in Washington” from U.S. PIRG
- The FTC’s report on repair restrictions from earlier this year
- A similar analysis from Stanford
- “Behind the Lordstown Debacle, the Hand of a Wall Street Dealmaker” from The New York Times
- “Google Told to Pay for News With Ultimatum and $593 Million Fine” from Bloomberg
- Molly’s interview with Vestager on “Marketplace Tech”
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