The right to repair movement is not well known outside of tech-savvy circles, but its implications affect anyone who owns or interacts with technology. To put the concept simply, the right to repair ensures that once a product is purchased, consumers are able to either repair it themselves or take it to any repair service location of their choosing. One might think they have this right already, but this is generally not the case.
Although there is a legal establishment for the right to repair for automobiles, there is an astonishing lack of similar protections for other consumer goods with internal electrical components. As more and more devices are manufactured with embedded circuit boards, large tech companies are simultaneously making devices difficult to open, locking software diagnostic systems, and making service documentation extremely difficult to find. As a result, consumers are forced to take their devices to authorized repair centers where they are charged exorbitant prices that encourage them to simply throw old devices out rather than extend their life cycle.
While throwing devices out and upgrading to a newer device may be good for profitability, it is not good for the environment. The business model of planned obsolescence is causing e-waste to become a rapidly growing problem electronic devices continue to proliferate. A sobering statistic that demonstrates this problem is the fact that 49.8 million tons of e-waste is expected to be produced in 2018 but only 15-20% of that will be recycled. In many cases, the remaining waste is simply dumped in a landfill or shipped to countries like Ghana where workers burn electronics to recover precious metals. This is often done with little to no safety gear and causes toxic gases and heavy metals to be released into the environment.
Given the clear negative impact to consumers and the environment, the right to repair must be extended to consumer electronics to reduce e-waste and allow consumers to fix devices they already own. If you would like to support this cause, consider checking out the links below for more information and similar content.
Right to Repair Advocacy: https://repair.org/stand-up/