US President Joe Biden reminds the White House he is serious about repairability

Tech giants will voluntarily do the right thing because of course they always do


US President Joe Biden has weighed into the Right to Repair furore once more as sueballs fly over some alleged monopolistic practises by a well-known farming equipment manufacturer.

While Biden did not mention John Deere by name in his tweet on the matter (preferring instead to offer plaudits to Apple and Microsoft for changing their policies on punters getting kit fixed by third parties), he did not shy away from other areas in his remarks on the topic.

"If you own a product, from a smartphone to a tractor, you don't have the freedom to choose how or where to repair that item you purchased," he said.

"What's happened was a lot of these companies said, 'You're right. We're going to voluntarily do it. You don't have to order us to do it.' And voluntarily said, 'We'll do it.'"

Hmm. Biden's comments come just over half a year since an executive order was made to deal with repair restrictions and mere days after sueballs were lobbed at the Deere & Company farming equipment maker for allegedly preventing users from repairing their gear themselves or via a third party. The company also received two Worst in Show awards at CES, thanks in part to its approach to repairability.

The European Parliament voted at the end of 2020 to slap labelling on products indicating their lifetime and repairability. Activist iFixit reported in 2021 on the pros and cons of the system introduced in France which, while not without faults, was a step in the right direction.

As for Biden's remarks, iFixit said: "This feels great, but it's not greatly accurate. Apple and Microsoft are large companies, to be sure, but there are many other manufacturers who will do nothing to make their devices more repairable without intervention. And those two corporate giants are not putting independent repair on the same footing as their in-house services –they're taking small, if still historic, steps.

"It's worth marking the point in time in which the US president announced his support for the right to repair – even if he has some issues with the feel of it."

Now, about that battery in our smartphone... ®

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