FTC Aims to Increase “Right-to-Repair” Enforcement

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission issued a press release and an accompanying policy statement indicating they would be more aggressively enforcing industries that inhibit a consumer’s so-called “right to repair” the products they own. This statement is directed towards a number of industries, including electronic devices, home appliances, and other interconnected products, in addition to passenger and commercial vehicles.

In a report published last May, the FTC outlined anti-competitive repair practices that are plaguing a number of different industries, but did give the automotive sector credit for taking proactive, consumer-friendly steps that other sectors have not.

“While the car manufacturing industry has taken important steps to expand consumer choice, other industries that impose restrictions on repairs have not followed suit,” the report’s authors wrote.

That said, any crackdowns on repair restrictions in other industries could likely impact the automotive industry, and NADA’s regulatory affairs committee has urged dealers to continue following any potential regulatory movements or proposed legislation that could impact a dealer’s vital right to host proprietary car and consumer data.

Some of the potential pressure points of a “right-to-repair” enforcement are outlined on page 6 of the May report. The FTC’s definition of right-to-repair restrictions includes examples of OEMs creating vehicle designs that “make independent repairs less safe,” certain software or firmware locks, and restrictive End User License Agreements.

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