Americans would be freer to repair their broken cellphones, computers, video game consoles and even tractors themselves, or to use independent repair shops, under changes being eyed by federal regulators.
The regulators maintain that restrictions have steered consumers into manufacturers’ and sellers’ repair networks or led them to replace products before the end of their useful lives.
As the Federal Trade Commission and the Biden administration see it, that raises issues of anti-competitive conduct.
The FTC is moving toward writing new rules targeting the restrictions. On Wednesday, the five FTC commissioners unanimously adopted a policy statement supporting the “right to repair” that pledges beefed-up enforcement efforts and could open the way to new regulations.
The repair restrictions often fall most heavily on minority and low-income consumers, the regulators say.
President Biden and members of his national security team plan to meet next month with business executives about cybersecurity, an official said Wednesday.
The Aug. 25 meeting comes as the White House is scrambling to help companies protect against ransomware attacks from Russia-based criminal syndicates and as the administration also confronts an aggressive cybersecurity threat from the Chinese government.
China’s cyber activities remain an urgent concern for the administration. On Monday, the administration blamed Chinese hackers for the breach of Microsoft Exchange email server software and accused Beijing of using criminal contract hackers who have carried out operations for their own financial benefit.
The administration has already been working with the private sector to promote better cybersecurity safeguards and resiliency. It has launched an initiative aimed at improving standards for critical sectors like electricity, and worked with Microsoft after the global hack detected earlier this year.
Financial pressures, unpredictable weather, drought, long work days and social isolation can cause stress and take a toll on the mental health of Montana’s farmers and ranchers, officials say.
The state Department of Agriculture has received a $500,000 federal grant to help connect agricultural producers to stress assistance programs.
The program will provide vouchers to Montana farmers and ranchers to receive free, confidential counseling services, both in-person and via telehealth. The services will be provided by in-state providers who have an appreciation for agriculture, the agency said.
The department also will work with agricultural groups to provide grant funding that can be used to help pay for mental health programming, such as a speaker or workshop.
The Department of Agriculture will continue to promote the Montana Ag Producer Stress Resource Clearinghouse to enhance mental health among those involved in agriculture.