Bulletins

FTC finds 'scant' reason for repair limits in right-to-repair report

A man repairs a car.
The right-to-repair movement has even bigger plans for 2021
Photo: Arseny Togulev on Unsplash

The Federal Trade Commission told Congress "there is scant evidence to support manufacturers' justifications for repair restrictions" in a Thursday report that promised to consider new rules or enforcement around consumers' right to repair their goods.


Following a 2019 workshop, the agency concluded that "access to information, manuals, spare parts, and tools" were among the proposals that were "well supported" to boost consumers' repair rights.

Consumer groups have long argued that manufacturers' limits on users' ability to repair items drives up costs and forces consumers to buy new goods before the useful lives of the items they already have are up — a problem that can be particularly acute with expensive electronic hardware.

Manufacturers can't condition warranties on consumers' using particular brands for repairs, but manufacturers have used a variety of other techniques to effectively curb repair rights, the FTC said, including limits on sharing parts and information, steering consumers to their own repair shops or partners, and enforcing software rights. Manufacturers say they are trying to protect intellectual property and device integrity.

The limits have become particularly acute during the pandemic when so many people are working and learning online, the FTC concluded.

Crypto crackdowns and fintech super apps

Plus, the Coinbase/Robinhood competition heats up.

Photo: Dmitry Demidko /Unsplash

On this episode of the Source Code podcast: Ben Pimentel joins the show to discuss China's aggressive moves against the crypto industry, Robinhood and Coinbase's battle for crypto supremacy, and PayPal's new financial super app. Then Tomio Geron explains what's going on at Binance, and why the largest crypto exchange in the world is under so much regulatory scrutiny.

For more on the topics discussed in this episode:

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.


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A technology company reimagining global capital markets and economies.

Theranos 'valued PR' over patients, an ex-employee says

Adam Rosendorff said he felt pressured to vouch for tests he did not have confidence in. His testimony appeared to tie Holmes more closely to the lab's failures.

Elizabeth Holmes leaves the San Jose courthouse where her fraud trial is underway.

Photo: Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images

Former Theranos lab director Adam Rosendorff testified Friday that he repeatedly raised the alarm about bad blood tests to then-CEO Elizabeth Holmes, ultimately concluding that the company valued press and funding more than the patients.

"I was very enthusiastic working at Theranos in the beginning. Over time, I came to realize that the company really valued PR and fundraising above patient care, and I became very disillusioned," Rosendorff said on the witness stand inside the San Jose courtroom where Holmes' trial on fraud charges began this month.

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Biz Carson

Biz Carson ( @bizcarson) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol, covering Silicon Valley with a focus on startups and venture capital. Previously, she reported for Forbes and was co-editor of Forbes Next Billion-Dollar Startups list. Before that, she worked for Business Insider, Gigaom, and Wired and started her career as a newspaper designer for Gannett.

Protocol | China

Can NFTs happen in a crypto-less China? Amazingly, yes.

Using clever workarounds, Chinese NFT players are managing to weather a regulatory ban on cryptocurrency.

No matter what workarounds Chinese NFT marketplaces choose, the result is that most NFT transactions in China feel detached from cryptocurrency.

Image: Yu Chun Christopher Wong/S3studio/Getty Images

The NFT craze has come to China, but you can hardly see any trace of crypto in it.

In the past two months, Chinese social media and gaming giant Tencent has built an NFT purchase and collection app, ecommerce platform Alibaba sold 50 NFT mooncakes in a stunt to promote a metaverse product and half a dozen startups are competing to be the winner of the localized non-fungible token trading market in China.

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Zeyi Yang
Zeyi Yang is a reporter with Protocol | China. Previously, he worked as a reporting fellow for the digital magazine Rest of World, covering the intersection of technology and culture in China and neighboring countries. He has also contributed to the South China Morning Post, Nikkei Asia, Columbia Journalism Review, among other publications. In his spare time, Zeyi co-founded a Mandarin podcast that tells LGBTQ stories in China. He has been playing Pokemon for 14 years and has a weird favorite pick.
Protocol | China

A Chinese ‘game companion’ platform’s phantom shutdown

Bixin said it would shutter its game companion business to keep regulators happy. It looks a lot like business as usual.

China's game companions are becoming even more vulnerable as a result of regulatory scrutiny.

Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

In a clear response to regulatory scrutiny, Bixin, China's leading online marketplace for game companions, or peiwan, announced on Sept. 10 that it would "permanently shutter" its controversial peiwan business. But its internal announcement shared with Protocol seems to contradict its public declarations.

This past summer, Chinese authorities issued a slew of regulations aimed at addressing what Beijing considers toxic subcultures and practices that harm the country's minors. Bixin, an app developed by Shanghai Yitan Network Technology Company with 6 million registered game companions, also received its own share of regulatory pressure. Yitan was founded in 2014 and is backed by IDG Capital.

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Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a reporter with Protocol | China. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. She can be reached at shenlu@protocol.com.

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