Georgians Push For “Right to Repair”

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HB 286 Filed at Georgia Legislature

Environment Georgia

Rep. Scot Turner (Holly Springs) has introduced a new bill, backed by the Georgia Farm Bureau, repair shops all over Georgia and non-profits, to require access to what people need to repair electronics — parts, tools, service manuals and repair software

Atlanta, GA–Today, Rep. Scot Turner filed the Right to Repair Act (HB 286), which would give Georgians what they need to fix electronics. The bill is one of many introduced across the country, aimed at tackling the many roadblocks that manufacturers put in place that make it hard for farmers, smartphone owners, and more to fix products they own.

“You bought it, you own it, you should be able to fix it,” said the bills lead sponsor Rep. Scot Turner. “This is a common-sense reform, which restore those rights to people in Georgia.”

The concept is based on a 2014 right to repair memorandum of understanding between car manufacturers and auto mechanics which requires automobile manufacturers to provide the same information to independent repair shops as they do for dealer shops.

As equipment has become increasingly computerized to meet federal regulation, the technology manufacturers have implemented restricts the owners of equipment from making repairs themselves or thru third party mechanic. Without access to the materials and information necessary for repair, farmers are being forced to wait exclusively for an “authorized” technician.  The result is lost productivity and the limitation of true ownership.

“This is an issue of private property rights and the ability to work on the equipment you own,” said Alex Bradford with the Georgia Farm Bureau. “It is critical that those who serve as the backbone of our state’s largest industry, agriculture, are provided the resources needed to keep their equipment running. Farmers already face unpredictable weather and trade circumstances, paired with historically low commodity prices. It is increasingly critical that options and resources to diagnose, maintain, and repair their equipment are available. This bill will create more flexibility for farmers to keep equipment running during critical planting and harvesting times, while also providing economic support for local businesses and options for our technical school graduates to utilize the skills they’ve learned on today’s technologically advanced equipment.”

The bill would also address an issue that made headlines last year when Apple was caught using a software update to throttle processors in their older phones which causes noticeable slow-downs for the users. In response to public blowback, they offered a discounted $29 battery replacement, but these replacements soon grew large waitlists, and many people don’t live close to an Apple store to have their phone repaired. Third party repair shops can replace your battery, but they aren’t given the chance to use original parts, and don’t have access to Apple repair information or software — issues this bill would address.

“We throw out roughly 12,000 cell phones every day in Georgia, that’s just absurd,” said Jennette Gayer, Director of Environment Georgia, who supports the bill. “And it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The companies that make so many of our products no longer give us what we need to fix them, and the result is extra cost for consumers and toxic electronic waste.”

The bill filed in Georgia is part of a nationwide effort to tackle disposable electronics and empower repair. Similar legislation was filed in 18 states in 2018.

“I take pride in fixing things for people, but the manufacturers are trying to stop me from doing that work,” said Todd Bone Founder and CEO of XSNET headquartered in Alpharetta, GA.  “If we don’t stand up for repair, the only people left to fix anything will be the manufacturers, and at that point they can charge whatever they want … or refuse to fix it, and make people buy new.”