A new executive order issued by the Biden Administration encourages the Federal Trade Commission to take action on restrictions related to the third-party repair or self-repair of automobiles and other consumer goods, otherwise known as the right to repair.
The executive order, which was first issued on July 9th, 2021, encourages FTC Chair Lina Khan to address the “unfair anticompetitive restrictions,” on third-party or self-repair of items like farm equipment and automobiles. The catch-all executive order also attempts to address various “unfair industry-specific practices that substantially inhibit competition,” in a wide variety of other industries including pharmaceuticals, real estate and internet.
The signing of the executive order comes after the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, an auto industry trade group that represents nearly every major automaker active in the U.S., sued to block a “Right to Repair” law that Massachusetts voters passed last year. The OEMs argue the language in the right to repair law means they “would have to abandon existing cybersecurity controls that protect safety- and emissions-critical functions.” The trade group also said previously that the law would “make serious cyberattacks much more likely,” and that “years of manufacturers’ work and billions of dollars in investment to protect and secure vehicle data will effectively be obliterated,” if it were to pass.
The executive order is likely to tilt the battle in favor of consumers and right to repair advocates, making it harder for automakers to fight third-party repair laws on the state level. The FTC is expected to meet this week to vote on whether or not to issue a new policy statement on repair restrictions, at which point the future of right to repair laws in the United States should begin to come into focus.