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Vermont Legislature
Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

Smart Phones, Tractors And Medical Devices: Who Has The 'Right To Repair'?

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The average smart phone is replaced roughly every 22 months, spurring calls across the country to protect customers' "right to repair" their electronics.

Have you ever tried fixing one of your electric gadgets? Even simply replacing the battery in your cell phone can require special skills or tools. You may not be allowed to do more advanced repairs without potentially voiding a warranty. That's led to demands across the country, including here in Vermont, for the "right to repair," the ability to perform basic repairs on items like smart phones, other electronics and more.

Chittenden Sen. Chris Pearson, sponsor of Vermont's "Fair Repair Law," explains the need he's seen for such a law in Vermont and how his bill could change who gets to fix computers, electronics, tractors, cars and even medical devices.

Jason Koebler, the editor-in-chief at Motherboard/VICE, shares his reporting on issues ranging from tractor hacking by Nebraska farmers to laws that could make it illegal to sell electronics that don't have easily-replaced batteries.

Also joining the show is ??Theresa McDonaugh, owner of Tech Medic repair shops, explains the problems she sees with increasingly unrepairable electronics and how she works to give devices a second life.

And we'll speak with Tim Wentz, the field director for the Northeast Equipment Dealers Association, Inc., and how he thinks the rules for repairing small electronics don't necessarily translate to agricultural machinery.

Broadcast on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
Matt Smith worked for Vermont Public from 2017 to 2023 as managing editor and senior producer of Vermont Edition.
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