A bipartisan group of senators last week introduced a bill to protect consumers’ right to repair their own devices and products. That proposed legislation is supported by 69 percent of registered voters, per a new Morning Consult/Politico survey.
What the numbers say
- Enshrining the right to repair in law has cross-party appeal: 72% of Democrats, 70% of independents and 66% of Republicans said they support such legislation. The Fair Repair Act requires electronics manufacturers to make tools, parts and documents available to owners and independent repairers, as opposed to restricting these materials for their in-house repair efforts.
- Laws protecting the right to repair also received 72% support among voters who said their most important issue is the economy. President Joe Biden gave momentum to the right to repair movement by signing an executive order last year to promote greater competition in the U.S. economy.
- There was a divide on whether voters or someone they know has attempted to fix their own device or equipment. A slight majority (54%) said they or someone they know has done so, while 46% said they or someone they know has not.
What it means
After signing his executive order to promote greater competition in the domestic economy, Biden said protecting the right to repair will make it easier for consumers to repair their electronics themselves, as well as protect the ability of independent repair shops to fix devices and compete for business.
The Federal Trade Commission also signaled its support for the right to repair with a policy statement noting that limiting consumers’ ability to fix their own devices results in higher costs, more electronic waste and longer wait times for repairs. The FTC said it will scrutinize repair restrictions for antitrust violations.
For their part, some companies have already said they will make it easier for consumers to repair their own products. Both Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. said they would make parts, tools and instruction manuals publicly available to customers, with the latter company’s statement following shareholder pressure.
The campaign for the right to repair is growing beyond personal electronics. A class-action lawsuit accused Deere & Co. of illegally monopolizing tractor repairs by making it difficult for farmers to fix their own machines. Separate legislation would help resolve the question of who gets to repair agricultural equipment.
The survey was conducted March 18-21, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,005 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.