The Federal Trade Commission testified today before a California State Senate committee considering a bill that would create a “right to repair” for several types of consumer products including requiring manufacturers of certain products to make spare parts, diagnostic tools, and repair instructions available to owners of products and to independent repair shops.
Testifying on behalf of the Commission, Dan Salsburg, Chief Counsel for Development and Innovation in the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, addressed two of the justifications for repair restrictions. First, in the FTC’s 2021 Nixing the Fix report to Congress, the FTC found scant evidence that repair restrictions are necessary to protect repair workers and consumers from injuries that could result from improperly fixing a product or using an improperly repaired product. Second, the Nixing the Fix report found no empirical evidence to suggest that independent repair shops are more or less likely than authorized repair shops to compromise or misuse customer data or that providing them access to diagnostics and firmware patches would introduce cybersecurity risks.
The testimony before the California State Senate Judiciary Committee builds on the FTC’s efforts to expand consumer choices and competition when it comes to repairing products. The Commission followed up its Nixing the Fix report by issuing a Policy Statement that warned manufacturers that the Commission would prioritize enforcement against repair restrictions that violate antitrust laws enforced by the FTC or the FTC Act’s prohibitions on unfair or deceptive acts or practices. And in 2022, the Commission announced three major enforcement actions against manufacturers whose warranties included terms that conveyed that the warranty is void if customers use independent dealers for parts or repairs in violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
The FTC stands ready to work with legislators, either at the state or federal level, to ensure that consumers and independent repair shops have appropriate access to replacement parts, instructions, and diagnostic software.
The Commission voted 3-0 to approve the presentation of the testimony before the California State Senate’s Judiciary Committee.