Right to Reparation Movement Gets Federal Government Attention
As the right to redress movement fights a national battle, most of the action has taken place on the American shores. Consumer activists are targeting multinationals who don’t want you to modify your mobile devices, attach aftermarket components to your vehicle, or have full access to the data amassed by the sheer number of products unnecessarily connected to Internet. After years of petitioning the government, often arguing with well-paid lobbyists, the group won a major victory in Massachusetts in 2020. Voters have decided that automakers should not be allowed to withhold information from the government. owner of the vehicle or use them as a means of prohibiting preventing them from taking their car to independent repair shops (rather than manufacturer-certified service centers) or from tinkering with it themselves.
Now the federal government is getting involved. Joe Biden signed an executive order that effectively requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take regulatory action that would address the issue. But it’s unclear whether this will lead to a market where customers are free to treat their property (and private data) as they wish, a market where the builder holds all the cards, or just end up with a field. regulatory mines unpleasant to all. parties.
Officially signed on July 9, Biden’s order comes with a host of recommendations that appear to further the cause of the right to redress movement. These include instructions to prevent industry from restricting consumers’ ability to use independent repair shops and to establish rules that would prohibit anti-competitive behavior. This places an overwhelming responsibility on the FTC, of which some consumer advocates remain wary. But the general trajectory looks like it will translate into a substantial victory for the movement.
“No one has a bigger megaphone than the administration, and therefore it is very important to draw more attention to the right to auto repair,” Justin Rzepka, executive director of the Consumer Access to Repair Coalition, a independent automotive parts and repair group. companies, associations and insurers, Automotive News.
“It is difficult to argue that this is not helping our side, by drawing more attention to this problem,” he added.
The commission – headed by President Lina Khan and flanked by two Democratic commissioners and two Republican commissioners – is due to meet on Wednesday, July 21 to vote on whether to issue a new policy statement on restitution restrictions following the FTC report to Congress on the matter.
The report released in May lists the types of repair restrictions used by manufacturers in the auto industry and other industries, summarizing the explanations for these restrictions as well as repair advocates’ arguments against them.
It also suggests solutions to complaints about a range of consumer products – including vehicles, mobile phones and farm equipment – either through state or federal law, voluntary industry cooperation or new FTC regulations.
The small businessman-turned-figurehead of the right to redress, Louis Rossman, has always been skeptical of regulatory efforts – regularly providing examples of the government failing to enforce existing privacy laws. consumer or antitrust laws. But even he suggested that some of the new FTC hires appeared to be promising allies for the movement, including Khan. Although he still believes that it is up to the citizens to remind those in power to act according to their stated beliefs and to push for the desired results.
From Rossman’s perspective, the Executive Order creates an opening for real progress to be made and that’s enough after years of right to redress for lost battles against industry lobbyists and risk-averse politicians. But he doesn’t believe the battle is nearly over.
“Of course I’m cynical,” he said earlier this month. “I’m still cynical. I will always remain cynical. This is precisely why I have worked a lot with the members of the FTC who are responsible for making these kinds of rules – through my antitrust lawyer who I hired several months ago – to make sure that when they start writing these rules, repairmen have a place at the table so that it doesn’t end up being a bunch of watered down and watered down bullshit.
“We are very far from finished. There is a lot of work to be done. “
Most of this work will be done in opposition to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) – the world’s largest automotive trading group – and other corporate lobbies that try to prevent Massachusetts laws on the right. repair to expand to other parts of the country. The IAA has previously said that the auto industry actually knows better than consumers how to fix their cars and deliver meaningful OTA updates – which allegedly depend on the ability of manufacturers to monitor the data. He also believes that the auto industry’s repair options are robust compared to other industries and has questioned the very concept of vehicle ownership in the future. Auto lobbies have also alleged that Massachusetts has broken federal laws and exposed customers to new cybersecurity risks.
Mixed in with all this, a coalition of groups, both supporting and opposing the right to redress movement, would prefer regulatory action to be decided by Congress. Some find the sayings of the White House and / or the Federal Trace Commission unsavory, believing that they set a bad precedent for American governance. Others are just happy that there is a ball in play at the federal level.
[Image: Alexander Kirch/Shutterstock]