Securing a Right to Repair: Looking Back at our First Year

tl;dr Eight months after our official launch, SecuRepairs has notched impressive gains in our advocacy for a digital right to repair with more than 140 members, participation in an FTC Workshop, a panel at DEFCON and testimony before state legislators. A state-by-state battle to win a digital right to repair lies ahead of us in 2020. We need your support. Consider making a donation to U.S. PIRG’s Education Fund to support SecuRepairs.org and the fight for a digital right to repair.

With 2019 drawing to a close I wanted to provide an update on some of our accomplishments since our launch in April.

Eight months of awesome

First: let’s look back with pride on a very active eight months. Since launching, officially, in April, SecuRepairs has notched a number of accomplishments. Among them:

  • Membership: we have grown from zero members to more than 140 registered supporters. Our members include many of the world’s most noted information security professionals. 
  • Visibility: our group has attracted mainstream media attention and helped counter technology industry FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about the cyber security risks of repair. Among other things, SecuRepairs has been mentioned in right to repair articles in Forbes, Dark Reading, on BoingBoing and other publications.
  • Advocacy: SecuRepairs members have appeared at high profile right to repair hearings and technology industry events. Among other things:
    • Informing policy makers & regulators: SecuRepairs member Gary McGraw took part in a panel discussion of cyber security risks to repair at the FTC’s Nixing the Fix Workshop in July.
    • Engaging the information security community: SecuRepairs members Tara Wheeler, Joe Grand, Kyle Wiens and I took part in a panel on right to repair at the DEFCON hacking conference in Las Vegas in August
    • Educating lawmakers: SecuRepairs member Ming Chow of Tufts University joined me in testifying at an October hearing on proposed right to repair legislation before a joint House and Senate Committee on Beacon Hill in Boston.  

Progress across the country

The broader campaign to win a digital right to repair has also notched victories this year, as grassroots efforts to advance Right to Repair begin to bear fruit. Consider some highlights from the last year:

  • Right to Repair reforms were put forward in 20 different states. From Hawaii to Georgia, state lawmakers in 20 states introduced Right to Repair legislation. [2] 
  • Progress in the states has trickled up to leaders in D.C., including investigations by Congress and the FTC. We mentioned the July FTC workshop investigating barriers to repair, which saw SecuRepairs panelist Dr. Gary McGraw facing off against an industry representative. [3] Also, in September, the House Judiciary requested Apple go on record to defend their practice around repair. [4]
  • Manufacturers are changing their policies. In late August, Apple announced that the company would sell certain parts to some independent repair shops. Microsoft redesigned the Surface line of products so that it would be more fixable. [5] Companies are feeling the pressure.

Donate to win a right to repair in 2020

But here’s the ugly truth about getting important new laws passed (or getting them not to be passed) in the U.S.: it takes money. When SecuRepairs and other right to repair advocates show up to educate lawmakers on Right to Repair, to combat industry FUD with real security expertise, there is some $2.5 trillion worth of opponents who are already set up to lobby against us. [1] These are firms like Toyota, Verizon, Medtronic, Caterpillar, Facebook, AT&T and Johnson & Johnson and their industry groups like TechNET, COMPTIA and AHAM, Calling our struggle an uphill climb is an understatement. 

But we have a wind at our back. Namely: facts; the truth; and public support. That’s why, despite the herds of well-coiffed lobbyists, we’re continually making progress. And with your help we’re hoping 2020 could be a big breakthrough year.

What do we need? The resources to keep up our efforts in 2020. That’s why SecuRepairs is partnering with U.S. PIRG (the Public Interest Research Group) Education Fund. Together, we are asking you to make a year end donation to support our fight to win a digital right to repair. The money we raise will help cover the costs of SecuRepairs and support additional organizing resources to help expand our campaign. We hope you will be a part of year end campaign. Use the links above (or below) to donate.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.