Establishing a “right to repair” could offer a lifeline to independent shops — and save consumers money.

On Friday, President Biden issued a sweeping executive order promising action on various fronts — from drug prices to fees charged by airlines — to improve competition within the American economy. Among the most consequential if often-overlooked issues the order addresses is the “right to repair.”

Right to repair is a David-vs-Goliath battle. Local repair businesses have been frustrated for years at being shut out from servicing the products we all depend on. Apple, for instance, does not allow independent shops to repair home buttons on iPhones. Nikon has stopped selling service parts to local camera shops, forcing many out of business. John Deere withholds software that farmers need to keep their modern tractors running, making farmers beholden to dealerships even for the most basic fixes. Farmers are so frustrated that they turn to sketchy sources — like Ukrainian firmware companies — for tools to fix their own equipment.

The drafters of the order clearly had the John Deere issue in mind, as it condemns “anticompetitive 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.”

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