There's a quietly growing political movement around the right to repair your own property

It is Tuesday, February 19, 2019. In case you forgot.

The political movement behind your broken phone screen

Let’s set the scene. It’s a Friday night and you’re out with your friends. Maybe you’ve had a couple of drinks, or maybe you’re just clumsy. You’ve avoided fate for years, but then it finally happens. You drop your phone screen side down.

Before you even pick it up, you know its cracked. You hope it’s not that bad, but when you turn it over your worst fears are realized. The screen is completely shattered, along with your childlike sense of wonder.

You’re already dreading the hours and dollars you’ll have to spend to get it fixed. The next Genius Bar appointment…? Three weeks away.

You think to yourself, “there HAS to be a better way. Why can’t I just fix it myself?” Whether you realize it or not, you just made a political statement.


The reason it costs so much to fix your cracked phone (Iphone X: $279) is because Apple has a virtual monopoly on the repair market of their products. The tech giant has put in place software locks that make it nearly impossible to repair by anyone besides a “genius.”

And Apple isn’t the only offender. John Deere, one of the most popular farm equipment manufacturers, has manipulated copyright law to prevent farmers (typically a handy bunch) from repairing their own big green tractors.

Fight for your right... to repair

Enter the people’s champion -- the Repair Association. The Repair Association is trying to pass legislation in 15 states that would give consumers more control over the repair and resale of the stuff they own.

Despite support from independent repair technicians, aftermarket resellers, consumer rights organizations, and Allstate, the Repair Association faces an uphill battle.

Wait, Allstate the insurance company?
Yep, your phone is in good hands. While insurance companies rarely make headlines advocating for the little guy, Allstate now has skin in the repair game after it acquired iCracked last week, one of the largest third party smartphone repair companies in the US. Back to that uphill battle.

Armed with the deepest pockets in the world, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, John Deere, and electronics manufacturing trade groups are all lobbying in opposition of the legislation. 

While “right to repair” is currently a relatively fringe political issue, it could be a solid play for 2020 candidates looking to garner support from the handymen and women of America.
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Brendan Uyeshiro
Brendan Uyeshiro