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... ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022