pile of discarded cell phones

Right to Repair off to the races in 2021 with 14 active states

2021 is shaping up to be a big year for our efforts to secure your right to fix your stuff.

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Nathan Proctor
Director, Campaign for the Right to Repair

Author: Nathan Proctor

Director, Campaign for the Right to Repair

(857) 413-2534

Started on staff: 2005
B.A., Tufts University

Nathan leads U.S. PIRG’s Right to Repair campaign, working to pass legislation that will prevent companies from blocking consumers’ ability to fix their own electronics. In 2009, while working with the network’s Digital Team, he mobilized so many people to deliver online comments to then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in opposition to cuts to the state parks budget that they crashed the governor’s email servers. Nathan lives in Arlington, Mass., with his wife and two children.

In addition to New Jersey, which carried over its Right to Repair bill from 2020, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland (House and Senate), Montana (one bill for farm equipment, another for all electronic equipment), Nebraska, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont and Washington have all filed new bills. 

In addition, legislators in some of these states are drafting complementary bills and lawmakers in other states will introduce new bills. The next few weeks will be a flurry of activity as U.S. PIRG and our allies work with legislators to nail down language while building and mobilizing coalition support in as many of these states as possible. It’s a frenetic effort that requires a lot of coordination with our longtime partners Repair.org, SecuRepairs and iFixit.

Take action to support Right to Repair in your state > 

Our new report finds massive cost savings from repair 

Earlier this month, Right to Repair Campaign Associate Alex DeBellis and I released “Repair Saves Families Big,” a new analysis of how much money families and communities can save by embracing repair. We found that Americans would save $40 billion ($330 per family) per year if we repaired more products and used them longer. 

We are hoping to highlight for lawmakers just how critical repair is for their communities as they consider how to help their local economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our report was covered in a feature by CBSNews.com and a TV segment I recorded ran on some 35 television stations, as well as a write up in Naked Capitalism. We are continuing to roll out this report to media, breaking down savings by state. 

Farmers are doubling down on Right to Repair 

The farm equipment industry promised 3 years ago to give American farmers a “Right to Repair solution” by 2021. It hasn’t happened, so we have been assessing what tools farmers can and can’t get. One thing is for certain: Farmers are not satisfied with those current offerings, and farmer organizations are stepping up their advocacy. About a third of the Right to Repair bills filed to date target agricultural equipment. For our part, U.S. PIRG will expand our work in agricultural equipment repair in the coming months. 

Digital divide in focus as Washington state committee hears about the Right to Repair 

The Washington state House Committee on Consumer Protection and Business hosted our first Right to Repair bill hearing of 2021 on Wednesday. The hearing included a lot of discussion on the usual topics -- how the lack of parts, tools and information hurts local repair and refurbishing operations and creates a monopoly on repair. 

The sponsor, state Rep. Mia Gregerson, laid out her rationale for filing the bill this year: The COVID-19 pandemic made the digital divide starker than ever before, as many residents could not attend school or work remotely. Rep. Gregerson said that Right to Repair, along with digital literacy and broadband access, is critical to ensuring the availability of low-cost devices. This theme was echoed by a representative from the non-profit FreeGeek, who testified it has a 1,000-person waiting list for a refurbished device -- a list that would be shorter if we passed Right to Repair. We have previously reported on these issues, and expect this rationale to sway some legislators in many states this year. 

Right to Repair coalition highlights the worst new gadgets for people and planet

Every year, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the self-described “global stage for innovation,” gives manufacturers an opportunity to show off shiny new tech, whether it’s refrigerators you open with your voice, AI-powered robot vacuums, or $3,000 smartphone-operated doggie doors. Some of it could be life-changing stuff. But many products never see actual release; those that do often fall short or promises and expectations; and far too many of them are insecure, unrepairable and destined for the landfill. 

Together with Repair.org, iFixit, EFF and SecuRepairs, Right to Repair allies “honored” the worst ideas in new tech. Check out our selections for “Worst in Show.” 

We’re just getting started

In addition to many pending state efforts which are not yet public, we have opportunities to advance our agenda -- and your Right to Repair -- in Congress and at federal agencies. Not only that, Australian regulators are conducting an investigation into barriers to the Right to Repair, and the French repairability scoring labels, which will share vital information with consumers, are going live this month. 

Here, there and everywhere, we just want to fix our stuff. 

Nathan Proctor
Director, Campaign for the Right to Repair

Author: Nathan Proctor

Director, Campaign for the Right to Repair

(857) 413-2534

Started on staff: 2005
B.A., Tufts University

Nathan leads U.S. PIRG’s Right to Repair campaign, working to pass legislation that will prevent companies from blocking consumers’ ability to fix their own electronics. In 2009, while working with the network’s Digital Team, he mobilized so many people to deliver online comments to then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in opposition to cuts to the state parks budget that they crashed the governor’s email servers. Nathan lives in Arlington, Mass., with his wife and two children.