Biden Signs Executive Order Urging FTC to Address Right to Repair
On July 9, President Joe Biden signed a much-anticipated executive order (EO) “promoting competition in the American economy.” The expansive directive includes 72 initiatives to more than a dozen federal agencies, including encouraging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to limit “equipment manufacturers from restricting people’s ability to use independent repair shops or do DIY repairs.”
Specifically, the EO urges the FTC Chair to consider working with the rest of the Commission to exercise the FTC’s statutory rulemaking authority to address “unfair anti-competitive restrictions on third-party repair or self-repair of items, such as the restrictions imposed by powerful manufacturers that prevent farmers from repairing their own equipment.”
Following the release of the EO, AED’s President & CEO Brian P. McGuire issued the following statement:
“Unfortunately, the right to repair directive is a solution in search of a problem. Currently, consumers of heavy equipment can diagnose and repair their machinery and tractors. They don’t have the ability to alter the safety, security and environmental protections on the equipment. AED strongly urges the FTC to consider the significant differences between repairing heavy machinery and modifying or tampering with it, as the agency ponders future action.”
Unlike many other federal agencies, the FTC, is independent and isn’t under the direct control of the president. Therefore, the ability of the White House to compel FTC action is significantly limited. However, a recently released FTC report on repair restrictions certainly shows a predisposition by the agency to act.
Despite today’s EO, it’s unclear what steps the FTC will take or even which actions the agency has the statutory authority to commence without congressional authorization.
AED, working together with the broader equipment industry and other trade associations, will engage the FTC and the administration to educate them about the risks to equipment safety, durability, and environmental compliance posed by the EO, and oppose granting unfettered access to allow modification of embedded software and source code.
To read the White House Fact Sheet on the executive order, visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/07/09/fact-sheet-executive-order-on-promoting-competition-in-the-american-economy/
For more information, please contact Daniel B. Fisher, AED’s Vice President of Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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