back to article Biden to sign exec order calling for right-to-repair rules for farmers, maybe rest of us

President Joe Biden is expected this week to sign an executive order directing the formation of rules that ensure Americans have the right to repair ... their farming equipment, at least. Though this effort may well extend beyond agriculture, the White House today chose to focus on the farming side of things, presumably …

  1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    About time!

    There's been an increasing trend for manufacturers to restrict what consumers can do with the things they 'own'. So basically using DRM and other tricks to create vendor lock-in, boosting 'service' revenues, but harming consumers. But there's also conflicting legislation. So Dear John claims they need DRM to comply with emissions regulations. But sometimes that can conflict with common sense. So there's been a requirement to fit diesels with 'clean' systems like EGR (Exhaust Gas Recovery) and SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction). That's supposedly good, but expensive, and reduces engine power & efficiency. Rather handy if you're in the business of flogging DEF/AdBlue though.

    So it can be beneficial to 'delete' those systems. But then computer says 'no', because you've made an unauthorised modification to your.. I mean their property. Even if the modification means you'd still meet emissions standards. And then to add insult to injury, the EPA's been going around handing out large fines to anyone who sells services to modify or tune vehicles.

    But such is politics. There's also been some fun recently with Peleton. They decided to change the software on their treadmills, ostensibly to improve child safety by adding a PIN feature.. But the update also means owners.. I mean captives have to subscribe to a $40/month 'service' to be able to use 'their' machine. Given Peleton's losses, I can see why they're wanting to lock customers into subscriptions, but it hasn't taken long for people to figure out how to jailbreak treadmills so they can carry on using them.

    1. Auntie Dickspray
      Paris Hilton

      Re: About time!

      Peleton improved the software on its treadmills, by adding silently the ability for parents at wits' end to steamroll their destructive accidents by "accident." For that, Peleton should be applauded.

      As for anyone who would buy those de facto clothes hangers -- or worse, the narcissist's-best-friend "Mirror" that comes with bullying and a B.O.-spraying scent diffuser -- well, you have more cents than sense.

      I say, enjoy the subscription. After all, Mirror, Mirror, what a pittance for celebrated and requited self-love!

      It's the only way the company came up with to survive and to continue its catering to narcissists.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: About time!

        The tone of your post suggests you're only in shape because "round" is a shape, am I right?

        Peleton may have screwed up in a number of ways, but you're seeking to dismiss fitness gear overall as some sort of vanity tool, which it most certainly isn't. Even the mirrors aren't just there to frighten yourself with your image, but to help you verify that you're doing an exercise correctly.

    2. HammerOn1024

      Re: About time!

      Yeah... except he's trying to make new law, which the first lawsuit from the manufactures will nullify before the ink is dry.

      I'm amused by the Democrats in Congress. For a group of people who claim to represent "the little guy", yet buy large-tech holdings like a drunken sailor of a 52 day pass, they sure don't seem to be onboard with the whole right-to-repair wagon.

      I mean, along with "fixing" our immigration mess, where is the legislation? Nada! Zip! Zero! Zilch!

      SO Democrats... why no bills? That's an easy one, they are paid to spew, but hide when their investments will be torpedoed.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: About time!

        I'm amused by the Democrats in Congress. For a group of people who claim to represent "the little guy", yet buy large-tech holdings like a drunken sailor of a 52 day pass, they sure don't seem to be onboard with the whole right-to-repair wagon.

        That's Mr Pelosi. He has no knowledge of Mrs Pelosi's work.

        But such is politics. There are rumblings in the right direction, ie looking at competition & consolidation issues around the FANGs. But those companies also supported the Dems in cash or kind, and the mid-terms are approaching. So no doubt there'll be pressure via lobbying from those industries to water down any proposed legislation.

        And of course there's dear'ol Tesla. Likely to benefit heavily from Biden's spending package via subsidies for EVs, solar and rural broadband. But originally Tesla was going to 'open source' it's stuff, but reality is it's very locked down & locked in.

        But it's back to Peleton. They've been a media darling getting lots of kind words about their gear. Even though it's just treadmills and exercise bikes. Other vendors are available, although Peleton's also been on the aquisition trail, so may expand their 'exercise as a service'. Which is one of those caveat emptor things. Heavily hyped, now heavily anti-consumer. But it's the attitude that sucks, ie turning a purchase/property into an expensive leasing arrangement, but without any of the typical benefits from hardware leasing.

        And of course their products are easily substituted. Slap a TV on the wall, watch what you like while busily going nowhere fast.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: About time!

        I'm amused by the Democrats in Congress.

        Letting politicians pit ourselves against ourselves with left vs. right segregation methods is the most obvious and literal example of "Politically Incorrect".

        We don't need "Deomcrats"... we don't need "Republicans". In fact, who of us ever VOTED that we did? It's kind of odd, what many consider soooooo important, no one ever voted on.

  2. aldolo

    first row of the act should say:

    "security of the device must not depend on software". because, you know, software is always buggy.

  3. martinusher Silver badge

    "May" require?

    The specific complaint farmers have with John Deere's equipment is that when it breaks down you have to get a technician from an authorized service center to visit the unit with a laptop that has proprietary software on it to diagnose the problem. Apart from this being expensive its also rather inconvenient -- these units are likely to malfunction in the middle of a field which will effectively be in the middle of nowhere. Farmers and harvesters also can't afford the downtime.

    The counter argument is that the manufacturer needs to keep control of firmware to control emissions, safety systems and the like which, while true, is piling it on a bit. Just about every vehicle you're likely to find on a farm will have emissions controls and safety components like anti-lock brakes. These aren't the sorts of things that are liekly to go wrong (and if they do its a module swap). What the farmer's facing is an Apple like situation where the unit fails to function unless its been given an official repair by an official person at official prices even if its a simple mechanical defect.

  4. ShadowSystems

    Can we just nuke them from orbit?

    "Any business that makes it difficult or impossible for a consumer to repair their own property, or to have that property serviced by a 3rd party, shall be nuked from orbit like the social shit stains they are. The government will keep bombing your sorry asses until you get the fucking hint."

    Make them legally required to support devices, any device, for a minimum of ten years for hardware issues & software issues alike, after which it is required to release all hardware schematics & software into the public domain; if they want to keep making money, they need to keep supporting it, otherwise it becomes public domain.

    We already have things like the Magnuson-Moss warranty act to make it illegal for companies to try & make it difficult to dictate where/whom we get 3rd party warranty services from (like not going to their preferred dealer, just *a* dealer authorized to repair said car), so why not expand it to say "You make repairing your stuff difficult/impossible for the device owner, we nuke your ass into a smoking glassy crater to use as a swimming pool for cockroaches."

    Boris the Cockroach, if you reply to this post, I shall probably LMMFAO. =-)p

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Can we just nuke them from orbit?

      I would rather take the opposite approach:

      When a product is released, an independent outfit checks it over and gives it a serviceability score (including availability/cost of spare parts). That score determines the price they're allowed to charge for service... inversely proportional.

      Make it difficult to DIY service and you are only allowed to charge a minimal amount to do it. Make it really simple to DIY and you can charge what you like.

      Changing a headlight bulb involves removing the engine to access it? That's a £5 job even if it takes you 10 hours.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Leftists

    Marxist plot to deprive honest-to-goodness American corporations of their hard won rights to lock-in and rip-off their customers.

    1. Jason Bloomberg
      Joke

      Re: Leftists

      And just wait until Right to Repair allows terrorists to turn tractors and other products into Lean Mean Death Machines.

  6. Michael Habel Silver badge

    When will you all learn?

    To be happy, is to own nothing.... -Klaus Schwab

    Seriously though there are Ads currently running on YouTube, from some outfit called Grover explicitly citing the virtues of renting things as mondaine, as Laptops, and Oculas Quest Devices. makes you wonder if the rent Vega 64 from them...

    Perhaps then I could be happy.... just to have one, for the moment.

  7. lglethal Silver badge
    Trollface

    But, but, but... Trump and all the Republicans told me that Biden and the Democrats are massively anti-farmer and only care about the urban elite!

    But here they're doing something to help farmers! But Trump and McConnell told me that would never happen. I mean they didnt actually try and help the farmers with such an easy fix, but they would have got around to eventually, right? I mean Republicans are the party of the country people, so when they held power for all of those years in congress they could have passed such a law to rein in the John Deere's... but i guess they were busy with other stuff...

    But now its a Democrat in power and their the ones passing the law to help the farmers?

    I'm so confused!!! What is happening in America? It used to be so clear cut...

    (This post is brought to you by the Canyon in the German Saarland also known as Sarcasm....)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      It's surprising what governments can come up with when they do stuff instead of just being shrill. I wish we had some of that over here.

  8. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Just so folks understand

    It's been more than a decade since the price of a new harvester broke $1000000. Wheat harvest was typically three weeks long. Each day of delay, the price of wheat drops--and the chance of crop destruction increases. Breakdowns don't happen in the barn, they happen in the field.

    Right to repair in this field *ahem* isn't so much about right & wrong as it is about going broke or staying in business until next year.

  9. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    This is a big problem

    This is a big problem. As alluded to in the article, John Deere is ridiculous. It's not even as bad as those printers where you have to put in the official cartridges, it's worse.

    You can buy a fuel injector or sensor, even the official John Deere one, and the tractor will not use it until some dope at the Official John Deere Dealership (TM) hooks up a USB cable to the tractor and "authorizes" the parts.

    You (unless "you" have the Official Dealership (TM) diagnostic equipment) also apparently cannot hook up a scan tool to get diagnostic information, the tractor refuses until the official DRM handshake is performed. Unless you put in black-market Ukranian firmware, which I encourage everyone to do.

    It's exactly what the car companies started pushing towards in the late 1970s, before the feds made sure to pass right-to-repair laws (unfortunately only covering cars & trucks.)

    Edit: Just to note, this is usually not about farmers wanting to do emissions deletes, as has been suggested (I'm sure a few do...); it's really about wanting to be able to have the equipment you own repaired by any ol' diesel mechanic, just as I don't want to have to go to a GM dealership to have ordinary repairs done on my car.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge
      Go

      Re: This is a big problem

      Just to note, this is usually not about farmers wanting to do emissions deletes, as has been suggested (I'm sure a few do...); it's really about wanting to be able to have the equipment you own repaired by any ol' diesel mechanic, just as I don't want to have to go to a GM dealership to have ordinary repairs done on my car.

      It's also the fact that the closest repair tech is 100 miles away, and is booked two weeks in advance, because they won't/can't hire anyone else; and also that the closest factory authorized shop is also 100 miles away, and these things are large enough that they can't just be driven over there, or would require specialized towing set ups to get them there if they can't be moved on their own power.

      the other thing that Deere harped on in their 'defense' was that it would make the equipment vulnerable to security problems, which is the pot calling the kettle black given Deere's own (terrible) track record for information security...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An executive order is not a law. The companies that make farming equipment are not government entities and as such, are not required to follow an executive order. This is nothing more than symbolic gesture, one that lacks the ability for enforcement.

    Until there is a law, nothing will change.

    "The Court ruled in Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer that an executive order putting steel mills during the Korean War under federal control during a strike was invalid. “The President’s power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a lawmaker,” Justice Hugo Black said in his majority opinion."

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