The right to repair is an idea that tries to combat planned obsolescence cell phones, laptops and electronic devices: that ability that has everything to break and be very difficult to fix, to the point that the giants tech they force us to buy others.
The discussion is implanted all over the world, with movements that aim to sue companies such as Apple, Samsung or Sony make your devices more accessible. It happens that brands prefer, given the “miniaturization” of technology, to retain this capacity, making access difficult.
The interesting thing is that these issues are being debated very strongly in the United States, where he even has the support of the president, Joe Biden: in the middle of the year he signed an executive order aimed at right to repair.
The truth is that the subject has existed for years, but the discussion became very strong as more products became increasingly sophisticated and integrate with electronic components.
In fact, what began as a demand for mass consumer electronics (cell phones, laptops, computers) also moved to heavy industry: during this last week it made a lot of noise a protest for the right to repair tractors in rural America.
“Cibercirujas”, a movement that seeks to combat planned obsolescence in Argentina. Photo Marcelo Carroll
In fact, in Argentina there are movements that are dedicated to combating these difficulties that can be generated during a repair: “The problem is not the electrical consumption of the equipment, but rather what it costs to make technological products. For energy efficiency and carbon footprint, and for the resources they use, “he explains to Clarion Sergio Rondán, teacher and journalist from the Cibercirujas collective.
“We cannot follow a consumption logic governed by the idea that everything is disposable: the right to repair is not enough either. GAFAM should have everything changed all the time, if we can understand that devices can be repaired, we are going to have another type of relationship with technology, “adds the free software activist.
In the National University of Cordoba, for example, a program called RAM: Renovation and Upgrading of Machines (in a pun with RAM memory, which is used to open programs on telephones and computers).
Worldwide, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, raised the discussion with a video he made in the middle of the year explaining why he supports the movement: a paradox if you think that today, the company he created with Steve Jobs, monopolizes and hinders third-party arrangements.
Steve Wozniak supports the “right to repair”
The co-founder of Apple explained why the devices should be accessible.
Here, the keys of a move that, if successful, could save you thousands of pesos when fixing your phone.
What is the right to repair?
Laptop repair can also be difficult. Photo Marcelo Carroll
The idea is simple: if you buy something, you have the right to repair it or have it repaired on your own. You do not have to be forced that the official developer is the only one qualified to do it.
The interesting thing is that the average user is used to this when it comes to other goods: if the car breaks a suspension, would we throw the car and exchange it for another, or send it to the workshop?
If we puncture a tire with the bicycle:we go to the bicycle shop to put a patch or we throw the bike away and we change it for another? The same should happen with electronics.
The problem is that everything that has “a computer” or a chip behind it begins to complicate the equation. Especially because those who manufacture the products They often put labels inside them that, if broken, lose the official warranty– Again, the intent of large companies is to retain control over the device.
In the United States, progress is being made in theory, but practice complicates matters. Legally, American buyers are already allowed to repair what they buy, but when they do try to do so they find there is no information or parts are missing to be able to make repairs.
This is where the movement of the right to repair sets out its demands:
- That the companies put information available
- That users can buy tools to repair
- Allow the unlocking of the devices
- That he design be prone to repair
On the other hand, the companies argue that to meet these demands, technology should remain “big”, which is, for this movement, a fallacy: miniaturization should not necessarily be accompanied by clogging.
In short, the right to reparation movement tries to promote that the design consider the possibility of being repaired.
What does Biden want to do?
Biden signed the executive order in the middle of the year. AP Photo
The executive order that Biden issued mid-year points to cover consumer protections in terms of independent repairs.
One page of the order reads: “The FTC is encouraged [Comisión Federal de Comercio] to limit powerful equipment manufacturers to do not restrict people’s ability to use independent repair shops or make repairs DIY [Do it Yourself, “hágalo usted mismo”]like when tractor companies prevent farmers from repairing their own tractors. “
The environmental leg
The tech industry abuses a huge amount of polluting resources. Photo EFE
The right to repair also has an ecological meaning. It is not just about taking care of the consumer’s pocket, but also stopping the enormous number of devices that are produced (and discard) year after year.
Environmental groups argue that the laws in the sense of repairability are progress towards saving carbon emissions and using resources more intelligently: according to studies, Europeans produce 16 kilos of electronic waste per person annually.
“To produce equipment you have to explode the environment. It is important that the devices can be repaired to increase their useful life: the largest carbon footprint is in the manufacturing, ”Rondán explains to Clarín.
Thus, the right to repair is a step forward from having more control over what is bought and, in some way, to curb the impressive amount of emissions that the production of technology generates.
“You have to use them until they can no longer be used,” he says. And the way to it it is the right to repair.
Repair kits: available online. Photo Shutterstock