It's no secret that we live in a world dominated by technology today.  Our technology is constantly changing; becoming more advanced and giving us more features and bells and whistles.  It's also no secret that sometimes our technology stops working and getting it fixed can, often times, be an expensive venture.  We're used to fixing our own cars, for example, and today's phones or computers should be no different. 

Many companies have started implementing features that inhibit users' ability to repair their own equipment - expecting them, instead, to take it back to the original manufacturer for either a costly repair that you could have done yourself or for an even costly outright replacement.  This phenomenon has been coined the "Right to Repair," and with each passing generation of technology, it's becoming more difficult to repair our own tech.

Circumventing the Ability to Repair

Today, it's not uncommon that everyday items have some kind of electronic component added onto them.  Obviously, phones and computers have electronic components, but, even items like refrigerators, suitcases or water bottles are now coming with some type of electronic component that adds cool features or enhances your ability to use it. Unfortunately, when these components stop working, it could prevent the entire device from being usable, requiring an outright replacement or costly repair from the original manufacturer.  Companies refuse to share with their customers the resources necessary to repair their own equipment, which makes it more difficult to extend the longevity of their products.  Some even actively implement ways to actively prevent the repair of their components.

Recently, Apple pushed out an update to their iPhone line which disabled third party screens that were used to replace cracked or damaged ones.  This created a major backlash among customers, and, eventually, Apple had to provide another software update that allowed these screens to work again.  Other companies are providing a "security" chip inside the hardware of some laptops that will prevent customers from replacing their hard drive, or implementing other fixes that could extend the life of their device.

Some businesses, like iFixit, make it their goal to repair these gadgets and gizmos and provide ready-to-use resources as well as take apart guides to help those of us who want to squeeze more life out of our electronics.  As more manufacturers implement ways to obfuscate, or make nearly impossible, our ability to repair our own devices, however, others are raising their voices and demanding that we have the right to fix our own property.

The Right to Repair

When your car breaks, you have a choice as to the repair shop of your choosing or to make the attempt to repair it yourself.  For years, electronics had provided that same flexibility: customers could find the solutions to repair their own equipment, study the manual to their devices and then unlock or modify their devices to meet their needs until recently.  Many manufacturers are refusing to perform a repair that may require soldering to the electronics component due to time, costs and wanting to make their profit margins. As a result, the manufacturer forces a consumer into a corner to buy new, whereas many third party repair shops could handle the repair saving the consumer hundreds, sometimes, thousands of dollars. 

There's also the matter of e-waste.  This year, we are expected to surpass 50 million metric tons of e-waste globally.  Repairing our electronics helps increase their longevity, keeping these devices in your hands longer and spending less time in the waste bin.

Now, electronic repair shops are actively fighting to get those rights back with manufacturers, arguing that they have a right to repair technology that the original manufacturer, otherwise, wouldn't bother to or without charging the consumer a hefty fee. Some states have already gone as far as writing legislation with 8 states bringing up new laws to protect users' right to repair. With some manufacturers set to oppose this legislation, the new laws would protect your right as a consumer to seek out and repair your own electronics however you see fit and to protect businesses nationwide who make it their job to do the same.