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Politics & Government

Right to repair in Delaware? State lawmakers look at empowering consumers

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The movement to empower consumers to repair their own electronics is picking up steam in the First State.

 

Right to repair is a movement popular on many fronts, from hospitals to tech nerds to farmers.  Many of these people just want to be able to repair their own devices with the same tools, parts and documentation electronics companies already have.

 

State Rep. Ruth Briggs King (R-Georgetown) introduced the bill after hearing from a computer science student struggling to get parts for phones at a local cell phone repair shop.

 

After some research, she discovered this problem extends beyond cell phones. Manufacturers prevent people from fixing tech of all sorts on their own.

 

“We had biomedical technicians working in hospitals in major medical facilities that were unable to repair ventilators because the manufacturers were holding fast on the policy of not allowing them to repair or give them replacement or what they needed to do that,” Briggs-King said.

 

Briggs King adds that nowadays, the ability to repair your own devices is so much more important.

 

“Our phones are priced at $800 or more. They’re not like a burner phone that we can easily throw away,” Briggs King said. “The phone, by the way, is one example — there’s other equipment, other appliances as well that are out there.”

 

She points to farming equipment as an example. Many farmers run into trouble when their equipment breaks because the dealer lacks the staff to repair it before they lose the crop.

 

She says this also has environmental benefits. Repairing devices and keeping them in use longer is far better than throwing them away or even recycling them.

 

Similar right to repair legislation was passed in the European Union earlier this month, ensuring devices can be repaired for at least 10 years.

 

This bill is similar, requiring manufacturers to make any parts, tools and documentation available to the public to make their own repairs, or get it done by an independent business.

 

At a committee hearing Tuesday, the bill faced criticism from the manufacturers, who claim they already have repair agreements in place with businesses and people doing their own repairs could be dangerous.

 

Briggs King says she plans to tweak the bill before taking it to the full house for a vote.

 

Roman Battaglia a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

 

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