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The Right to Repair

The Right to Repair

by Gay Gordon-Byrne, Executive Director, The Repair Association

Reverse Logistics Magazine, Edition 89

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The Right to Repair fight is headed into 2018 with a full head of steam. At least 16 states have filed or pre-filed bills so far, and it is possible a few more will decide to jump in as the necessity for consumer protection grows by the day as new scandals emerge and more legislators see the political advantages of helping David beat Goliath. New bills have been filed in Washington, Virginia, New Hampshire and Vermont. We wouldn’t rule out see 2-3 more states jump in with new bills in the next few weeks.

The latest scandal from Apple over CPU throttling is providing excellent exposure to fundamental issues as Apple has admitted slowing older phones through software updates without the understanding or approval of the user. Their financial interest is obvious – consumers with slowing phones are being told they need to buy a new phone and not just replace a battery. Class action lawsuits have been filed in multiple states and internationally. More litigation is likely even if battery prices drop to zero. The legal principle is not the price but the trespass.

While it appears that Apple has already capitulated to consumer outrage, CPU throttling has been going on for some time. They simply got caught. Attempts to get themselves off the front page by issuing an apology and dramatically cutting the prices of battery replacements have not really worked. Many reporters are balancing their coverage by making reference to Apple’s animosity towards Right to Repair – giving us more, rather than less, attention. iFixit immediately slashed prices on their replacement battery kits – generating even more headlines for themselves and right to repair.

This latest admission of consumer deception by Apple only strengthens our position and provides encouragement to legislators already disgusted by limitations on repair. It isn’t the battery or the glass that is the problem – it’s the notion that the manufacturer can continue to control property they no longer own. If Apple is allowed to control devices at their whim – everyone will follow their lead. Apple just made our case for us that consumers clearly need legislative protection.

At the disposal and recycling end of the tech world, we’ve also gathered major allies fighting with us to slow the rate of e-waste by pushing legislators to enable and encourage repair. Greenpeace has decided to focus on preventing e-waste as a major policy objective which is going to help indirectly. Various state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) are teaming with us more formally to promote the solid environmental benefits of extending the useful life of devices through repair and resale. More and more solid waste officials are asking their legislators to bring right to repair to stem the flow of useful but discarded electronics.

2018 is shaping up to be a landmark year for Right to Repair.
Gay Gordon-Byrne, Executive Director, The Repair Association. In my role as Executive Director I’ve had the opportunity to engage directly with legislators to design and promote the interests of the repair community. I get up every morning excited to work on furthering not only our legislative agenda, but growing our alliances and developing member benefits. It is a tremendous honor to be part of our outstanding team.

Pertinent background: Over 30 years in the secondary market for IT equipment including packaging of hardware, operating systems software, applications, long-term maintenance services and end of life processing. Expert on vendor policies and contracts as an authorized reseller, direct employee, lender, and lessor.

Technical background includes development of the TekTrakker reliability tracking product and associated research into architectures, manufacturing and failure modes of digital electronics. Prior experience also included training in systems engineer for operating systems, technical training and certification for product sales by HP, EMC, CISCO, IBM, STK, and Sun products.

Organizationally have held leadership positions in multiple civic, athletic, musical, church, and homeowners associations in addition to multiple years as Chair of the SIA-ICCC which was set off to become the DRTR in 2013.
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