The European Parliament has voted in favor of consumers' rights to repair their electronics, requiring the introduction of mandatory labeling detailing the expected lifespan and repairability of consumer goods — and France is to be the first to introduce it, rolling out labeling in January.
The right to repair is at the heart of the hacker ethos, but the right is under threat: Manufacturers are increasingly implementing systems, ranging from digital rights management locking out third-party parts to packaging which is near-impossible to dismantle without damage and even covering lawsuits targeting third-party repair houses and those disseminating related knowledge, which look to lock people in to closed ecosystems and make devices more disposable than ever before.
Doing so in Europe just got more difficult, though, with the European Parliament voting 395 to 94 in favor of the development and introduction of mandatory labeling which, like the energy efficiency labeling already introduced, highlights the expected lifespan and repairability of consumer goods at the point of purchase.
"This is a huge win for consumers across Europe," says iFixit's director of advocacy Matthias Huisken, who has been working with the European Parliament on ahead of the vote. "This vote will set in motion a wave of new repair-friendly policies, from repair scores at retail to product longevity disclosures."
While the pan-European labeling guidelines have yet to be developed, France is to be the first to implement its own in the interim: As of January next year, all smartphones, laptops, and other consumer electronics will be labeled with an "indice de réparabilité," a label offering a score out of 10 for how repairable a device actually is — points being deducted for everything from glued-in batteries to security screws.