The Right to Repair: Struggles Over Digital Tools and Consumer Rights
Featuring: Frank Pasquale, Steven J. Jackson, and Alissa Centivany.
7 October 2021, 7PM
What happens to our environment, economy, and culture when repairing our things becomes impossible? What would robust and comprehensive provisions supporting meaningful repair look like?
The fourth event in our Big Data at the Margins series examines the challenges and opportunities situated around repair and the burgeoning right to repair movement. Increasingly, technology design is guided by private interests that are antagonistic to repair; manufacturers sell products that, both, appropriate our personal data and deprive us of information about how the product works and how it can be fixed; businesses prioritize sales over repair; and intellectual property and other laws control activities of repair that previously have been commonplace. Impediments to repair affect a wide range of industries, including agriculture, health care, defence, and consumer goods, and their economic, environmental, and social consequences are dire. In the face of these developments, numerous local, consumer movements have arisen to assert our right to repair our things, arguing that an ethos of repair reduces environmental damage, supports local economies and workers, and encourages learning, problem-solving, and creativity. When we work with others to fix things, we build communities and systems of mutual support.
Frank Pasquale is a professor of Law at Brooklyn College and author of The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information. He is a tireless advocate for consumer rights and education in the tech sector.
Steve Jackson is an associate professor in Information Science and Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University. He has contributed ground-breaking work on the political and economic importance of repair.
Alissa Centivany is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at The University of Western Ontario. She brings a necessary local focus to this important issue with her ethnographic work on burgeoning right to repair movements in Southwestern Ontario.