50,000+ petition FTC to support Right to Repair

Media Contacts
Nathan Proctor

Senior Director, Campaign for the Right to Repair, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Public comment period closes, advocates deliver letters signed by hundreds of organizations, tens of thousands of people

WASHINGTON — Repair advocates submitted tens of thousands of signatures on Thursday calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue new rules on Right to Repair. They also delivered supportive letters signed by more than 600 lawmakers, organizations and businesses. The event preceded the Friday close of the agency’s public comment period on a request for rulemaking by U.S. PIRG Education Fund and iFixit.

“In every corner of this country, from Maine to Alaska, from Nebraska to Hawaii, Americans just want to fix their stuff,” commented U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Senior Right to Repair Campaign Director Nathan Proctor. “People have had enough unfixable products, and they want to FTC to take action to enhance their Right to Repair.”

Consumer Reports, Repair.org, U.S. PIRG, Story of Stuff Project and Environment America collected the 56,961 signatures and encouraged the public to submit comments to the FTC’s website. To highlight some of the most interesting stories that Americans submitted about repair, advocates created a map tool, “Americans Just Want to Fix Their Stuff.”

Photo by TPIN Staff | TPIN

“If you own a product, you should be able to do what you want with it,” said Justin Brookman, Director of Technology Policy at Consumer Reports. “You can sell it, you can modify it, and you should be able to repair it. You shouldn’t have to ask for permission or check the terms of a license agreement to fix the smart devices you own.”

Advocates organized support from a wide range of people and organizations, including letters signed by: 

  • 77 state lawmakers
  • 485 repair shops / repair technicians 
  • 50 environmental groups 
  • 80 STEM education groups and maker spaces
  • 19 groups working to address tech access and the digital divide
  • 26 school IT programs concerning educational technology
  • Hundreds of farmers as part of the National Farmers Union’s support  

Will Holman, director of the maker space Open Works, signed on in support. He spoke at the delivery event about how restrictions against repair make it harder to teach the next generation how to understand technology.

“Today’s tech titans all benefited from resources like Open Works when they were young,” said Holman. “But once they were successful, they pulled the ladder up behind themselves.”

The petition calls for the FTC to initiate a rulemaking addressing some of the most common barriers to repair. Specifically, supporters want the agency to require manufacturers to allow access to parts and service manuals, and to ban anti-repair practices such as glued-in batteries and software locks against repair (often called “parts pairing”).

Photo by Yazan Aboushi | TPIN