Apple, Verizon Join Forces To Lobby Against New York's 'Right To Repair' Law

from the making-ownership-more-expensive dept

Over the last year, we’ve noted the surge in so-called “right to repair” laws, which would make it easier for consumers to repair their electronics and find replacement parts and tools. It’s a direct response to the rising attempts by companies like John Deere, Apple, Microsoft and Sony to monopolize repair, hamstringing consumer rights over products consumers think they own, while driving up the cost of said product ownership. John Deere’s draconian lockdown on its tractor firmware is a large part of the reason these efforts have gained steam over the last few months in states like Nebraska.

In New York, one of the first attempts at such a law (the “Fair Repair Act”) has finally been making progress. But according to New York State’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics, Apple, Verizon, Toyota, Lexmark, Caterpillar, Asurion, and Medtronic have all been busy lobbying to kill the law for various, but ultimately similar, reasons. And they’re out-spending the consumer advocates and repair shops pushing for this legislation by a rather wide margin:

“The records show that companies and organizations lobbying against right to repair legislation spent $366,634 to retain lobbyists in the state between January and April of this year. Thus far, the Digital Right to Repair Coalition?which is generally made up of independent repair shops with several employees?is the only organization publicly lobbying for the legislation. It has spent $5,042 on the effort, according to the records.”

To be clear, the vast majority of the time, companies lobbying against this kind of legislation don’t like to even admit that they oppose it. But when they do go on the record, it usually features a trifecta of false claims that the bills will make users less safe, pose a cybersecurity risk, and open the door to cybersecurity theft. In Nebraska, for example, we’ve already noted how Apple claims that allowing people to repair and tinker with the hardware they own will somehow turn the state into a “mecca for bad actors and hackers,” and that letting consumers repair their own electronics would cause lithium batteries to catch fire.

Of course, the real reason Apple opposes this legislation is that it stands to lose significant repair revenue once people no longer have to drive half an hour to the nearest Apple Genius bar and support team. The same is true for game console makers Sony and Microsoft, who obviously would prefer it if you’re only able to use their significantly-more expensive repair programs. They’ll ignore the fact that this kind of behavior not only allows companies to charge an arm and a leg for what very well may be superficial repairs, but helps prop up closed, proprietary ecosystems, hurting customers in a myriad of other ways as well.

And while supporters of these right to repair bills are very candid about the benefits they think users will see, it’s telling that the companies lobbying against these rules refuse to comment whatsoever on their opposition, and when they are willing to talk can only trot out a parade of theoretical horribles that don’t really make coherent sense.

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Companies: apple, lexmark, toyota, verizon

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Comments on “Apple, Verizon Join Forces To Lobby Against New York's 'Right To Repair' Law”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why is this even an issue???

I still don’t get why this is an issue.

Because companies with far more money (which in turn means far more share of voice) stand to lose a lot of money (which in turn means politicians do as well).

THAT is the only reason why this is an issue. Sadly, there is really nothing else to "get" about this situation.

Machin Shin says:

Re: Why is this even an issue???

“”Because it involves a computer” because most modern cars have one of those too…”

Well, why do you think Toyota was in that list? Car companies tried to lock people out of doing repairs years ago and they got slapped down for it. Now they slowly have been making cars more and more into a rolling computer. You really think they won’t circle around and try to lock you out of fixing your own car?

Machin Shin says:

Re: Re: Re: Why is this even an issue???

How do you figure I am helping to ensure that? You think my pointing that out is going to give them that idea? I am pretty sure they never gave up on it.

I also can’t be blamed for supporting this trend to turn cars into rolling computers. I find it frustratingly stupid and I drive old vehicles. I don’t plan on every buying one of these new pieces of shit where everything is computer controlled. I love computers, but no way I want one between me and control of my car.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why is this even an issue???

Here is the crux of the problem.

In order for Government to take care of the problem for you, you have to give them power, to take care of it. When government has power, you don’t. Governments and Citizens cannot both have power, one is subservient to the other.

What happens when they have that power? They abuse it and then you lose. The game afoot here is the second oldest profession.

I am not blaming your directly for the problem, just saying that by the numbers, you are likely helping to create the issue, even if your intentions are to prevent it. So in short, this problem, was created by government, therefore you are effectively asking for help from the devil to save yourself from the devil. This is evils MOST favorite game!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why is this even an issue???

I agree with you. The government, by allowing these entities to register as corporations, did cause these problems. Also, the government caused this particular problem by having laws and courts that allow the corporations to enforce their non-negotiable, arbitrary, and capricious terms with the force of the state. And wow, the government also granted monopoly powers to these corporations which allows them to restrict direct competition, also enforceable with the force of the state.

Go back to the Gulch. You bring these same ridiculous lolbertarian ideas to any thread with any hint of discussing regulation.

Machin Shin says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why is this even an issue???

While I certainly agree that giving government more power is rarely good, the issue here is that these companies have far too much power and in many cases are almost like governments.

The really awesome solution would be to take away some power from both by killing stupid laws like DMCA and bringing copyright and patients back into line with reality. (I’m sorry but “life of the author + 70 years” while technically is a “limited time” I don’t think anyone would seriously consider that limited)

Sad thing is that I very much doubt that will happen any time soon. You see how they are fighting over this. Just imagine the fight you would have telling them you were rolling copyright back to a reasonable level.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Why is this even an issue???

“While I certainly agree that giving government more power is rarely good, the issue here is that these companies have far too much power and in many cases are almost like governments.”

They got those powers through law and regulatory capture. Think about how in bed with governments these guys already are. You can’t scare them with “government”. You can only scare them with Free Market and reduced regulations, more specifically the regulations that that allow them to sue and drain or shut down people and places that help people fix their products.

“The really awesome solution would be to take away some power from both by killing stupid laws like DMCA and bringing copyright and patients back into line with reality.”

I think we are in the same boat now. And you bet they will fight tooth and nail for it. The problem is that they have managed to fool a lot of people into thinking they hate regulation when they actually are ASKING for them.

The biggest con these businesses have successfully pulled on people is to make them believe that big businesses hate regulation. It is only small businesses that hate them because it hurts their chances at becoming big. Remember which Netflix was more invested in net neutrality? No so much any more.

Regulation is the bane of small business and innovation, it is the bread and butter of politicians and big business.

A lot of people take my anti-regulatory stance too far. I hate regulation, but there are other things I hate more than regulation so I can agree to small and narrow laws to control the greet that humans have. Whether they are in small, medium, or big businesses or the biggest business of all! Government!

I am a big fan of regulation that is LIMITED to anti-monopoly and anti-trust. But those are essentially the only laws I tend to agree with, and a few sensible environmental laws to keep our planet healthy and safe for the next set of idiots about to inherit it.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Why is this even an issue???

This is akin to me being forced to take my car to the dealership anytime I need maintenance on it.

No, you are not forced to take your car to the dealership. You can take it to other 3rd party service centers and get insurance and some times even warranty repairs. You can fix many things yourself without voiding the warranty.

And when the warranty runs out, you can take it anywhere you want for repair. You can swap in a different transmission or engine or make any other customization.

The John Deere firmware outright prevents routine repairs and equipment swapping, the sort that farmers have done for a century. Their tractors may be down for days at a very important time, waiting for a service tech to make an expensive call.

This is "Because it involves a computer"… a computer whose primary purpose seems to be to prevent owner repairs.

3rd party companies routinely replace the broken glass on cell phones. There’s no good reason why firmware should prevent them from doing so, any more than firmware should prevent 3rd party auto glass shops from swapping your windshield. Even in the 1970s we had things like radio antennas and defrosting elements baked into the windshield glass, and it didn’t stop 3rd party replacements.

Bruce C. says:

Re: Why do you think the car companies are lobbying?

With DMCA and proprietary encryption of onboard computer data, car companies will soon be able to force you to go to the dealer to get repairs. I await the day they put a computer-controlled lock on the oil drain to force you to go to the dealer for routine oil changes.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Lexmark uses dubious patent, trademark and copyright claims to prevent 3rd-party replacement ink cartridges.

They even region code their cartridges to prevent importing from cheaper markets. (Corporations can move their manufacturing overseas. Consumers sourcing overseas are treated as criminals.)

If automobiles had hit the market only 20 years ago, tires, oil and air filters and replacement windshields would all be chipped to prevent 3rd party replacements. The same would have happened for typewriter ribbons and then dot matrix printer ribbons.

Anonymous Coward says:

“mecca for bad actors and hackers,” and that letting consumers repair their own electronics would cause lithium batteries to catch fire.

I seem to remember lithium batteries exploding all by themselves – there was no bad actor or hacker causing the stupid things to catch on fire, they did it all on their own.

As for bad actors … takes one to know one

Anonymous Coward says:

poor saps

you have been trying it this way for a long time. give up, you are not going to win.

Government nannies are not a solution to this problem. When you go to your politicians and ask for help, there is a price, there is ALWAYS a price. Just like making a deal with the devil price. How many times are you going to have to make that deal before you realize you keep getting screwed by it?

I don’t feel sorry for you in the least. It just sucks that I am surrounded by a group of babies that want their cakes and to eat them too!

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "Government nannies are not a solution to this problem."

You’re going to have to elaborate then, else it sounds like that’s exactly what you’re saying.

Snippy comments without further explanation tend to suggest you haven’t thought it through.

Now if I were to infer that we’d be better off with no IP system whatsoever (no copyrights, no patents) that would be considerably better than the easily exploitable system we have today.

But then it’d be subject to another set of abuses.

The market needs to be well regulated (to prevent anticompetitive practices, at least). Products need to be well regulated (for safety concerns at very least). Yes, we have a problem with monied interests having too much influence on our representatives (who are supposed to represent us, the voters, not campaign contributors).

So if you want to address voter reform, do that. Deregulation is how we get leaded drinking water and electronics that slowly microwave our brains.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "Government nannies are not a solution to this problem."

no, he erected a straw man in a weak effort to deflect what I am saying.

You all sound like a bunch of children that say “well other parents let their kids stay out, why can’t I?”

Regulation in the market created this problem, it is not a solution to the problem. This is why you guys keep failing. Existing laws created this problem and instead of fixing THOSE you spend your time advocating for more of them instead. Politicians have plenty of time to fool you with little effort. Go ahead, keep running back to them, they never mess things up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 "Government nannies are not a solution to this problem."

Regulation in the market created this problem, it is not a solution to the problem.

You again?

So then in order to get Toyota, et al to allow you to repair your own shit, we need to regulate them less?

Tell me, what regulation is preventing Apple from letting you repair your own computer?

If you’d like to pick another company and the associated regulation, feel free.

Otherwise, you’re just as full of shit now as you’ve been on all the other posts where you say the exact same things without any substance whatsoever. We get it – you hate the government. But you’re assuming that when faced with a moral dilemma, companies will act in the best interests of its customers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 "Government nannies are not a solution to this problem."

“So then in order to get Toyota, et al to allow you to repair your own shit, we need to regulate them less?”

A regulation exists that can be used to legally prevent you and other businesses from repairing your “computing” devices.

So yes, less regulation would be a cure… Genius!

“Otherwise, you’re just as full of shit now as you’ve been on all the other posts where you say the exact same things without any substance whatsoever.”

I keep forgetting you don’t have any substance you just need to keep ridiculing persons more intelligent than yourself because the echo chamber demands it from you.

“We get it – “

No, that is the problem, you think you get it, but you do not.

“But you’re assuming that when faced with a moral dilemma, companies will act in the best interests of its customers.”

See, proof you do not get it

But you’re assuming that when faced with a moral dilemma, politicians will act in the best interests of their voters.

And despite having seen politicians screw their voters over many times….

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 "Regulation created this problem. Regulation is not a solution to this problem"

I’m totally unclear how you can lump every regulation or even the act of regulating (constraining by law) in this way. As the toxic meat situation illustrated in The Jungle (1906, by Upton Sinclair) regulation is a necessity for large markets.

And as the telecommunications industry has shown us, regulation doesn’t do enough.

Now yes, the legal restrictions on repair have to do with how the DMCA works, specifically the anti-circumvention clause. It’s a law meant to criminalize circumventing the DRM of copyrighted works (even for legal purposes, which poses a problem) being misused by companies to restrict use of physical goods (such as tractors and cell phones). It’s using software to restrict hardware.

That’s a regulation with a problem. And, granted, we have many poorly-written regulations that cause many problems.

But Right to Repair don’t merely lift the DMCA obstruction to repair, but can also require that third parties gain access to equipment and specs necessary to repair them. They can also disallow the use of proprietary bolts or specialized IO cables, which are both commonly used to discourage third party repairs to electronic devices.

So in this case we’re talking about some good regulations and some bad regulations. Most of the time we’re always talking about this.

It’s been revealed before that companies get as much as twenty-three times the investment more into lobbying to capture regulatory agencies and turn laws to their favor than they do researching to improve their product or marketing or improving production. We need regulation to assure products are safe, to dissuade anti-competitive practices, to assure that the market is fair.

Because without them we will ultimately not have a market at all, rather a handful of corporations controlling everything. And toxic meat.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 "Government nannies are not a solution to this problem."

A regulation exists that can be used to legally prevent you and other businesses from repairing your "computing" devices.

As I asked before, which government regulation does so?

Somehow, I don’t think I’ll get an answer other than "you just don’t understand…"

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: poor saps

Sounds like you’ve got this all figured out, so tell us – how do you sidestep the repair fee?

I know many folk out there simply fix the damn thing and thumb their nose at the assholes, but that does not address the concerns of the small business person who is faced with manufacturer imposed fees intended to be anti competitive. How do these butt monkeys rationalize their demands for protection from small businesses competing on a level playing field? Poor babies, need their bottle warmed up because bad actors and hackers are messing up the monopoly rent system.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: poor saps

I will tell you as soon as you realize there is more than one way to skin a cat and that government is never your friend, or reliable, or trustworthy.

come back when you figure it out, in fact, once you figure it out, you won’t need to come back anyways.

Try reading the declaration of independence for a hint, good luck finding enough people to understand along with you though. I am currently sitting in that boat and thoroughly ridiculed for it.

History already knows how to fix the problem as well… too bad no one reads about it!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 poor saps

So you like the boat you are currently in?

Power you helped give to the FCC is being used to bend you right over. I am not sure you have been listening, but the FCC is not listening to you. Go ahead, scream a little louder, Ajit seems to be having a lot of fun. Did you bring lube or do you like it dry?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: poor saps

Try reading the declaration of independence for a hint,

Oh yeah, the declaration of independence. Why didn’t we think of that?

Talking with you is like playing chess with a pigeon.
At some point you’ll just shit on the board, fly away, and call yourself a winner.

That post was that point.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 poor saps

Michael Masnick invented this technique, he can claim it as his own. He called it the “Streisand effect”, and it represents exactly that. What this team lacks in vocabulary and intellectual ability they make up for in foul mouthed, low-character, disgusting remarks. The Streisand effect, first hand.

NKX 3.1 (profile) says:

Bill requirements

What are people’s thoughts on some of these legislative bills also requiring a company to sell repair parts? I mean, I get that a requirement like this is the only way to give the bill some teeth, otherwise the company could just not sell replacement parts. But it also galls me a little that we are saying if you want to do business X you must also incur the costs to do business Y.

And does the company have to sell all of the parts? Or just ones that could be replaced? If just replaced, couldn’t it be made to not have anything replaceable (Hi, Apple!)

Does the company get to set the price of the replacement part to the repair company? If so, couldn’t the company just make the replacement part cost as much as a new product? Or are price controls going to be implemented? Do we want to be saying “you must sell part X for cost Y”?

Maybe these are just implementation details.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Bill requirements

The problem with your proposal is that it will only mandate that businesses create more waste just to remain compliant with the new “regulations” or just ignore the regulations in hopes they will escape enforcement which is actually fairly common. They are very good at coming up with excuses for government patsies.

The regulations preventing people and businesses from repairing things legally are the ones in serious need of “de-regulation”.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: The most sacred right of all

Until you need that specific product in order to work.

Tractors are necessary to work farms, and all the companies that make tractors pull the same thing John Deere does, requiring authorized technicians (who can be days away and priced exorbitantly). All the while crops are not getting sown or harvested.

It’s the tractors, not the phones, that drove the right to repair issue into public awareness.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The most sacred right of all

That’s not even the end of it. I can only imagine how incandescent with rage they are at having the likes of Malibu Media and Prenda Law be the vectors for a revival “sue them all” method of anti-piracy, only to have judges pay closer attention to those tactics…

ECA (profile) says:

NO right to repair...

ONLY a right to buy a NEW item when the other one DIES 1 day after warranty..


REALLY.. There is a 4 cent to 1 dollar PART in most/many items, that Fails the Soonest/quickest, MOST often..
An over powered Capacitor..generally, or a small resister over used.. Made by some corp to be ABIT CHEAP..

really…Look at Phillips remote controls..a SIMPLE product, that should LAST at least 1/2 as long as the original remote. 1 year..3 days, 7 hours, 21 seconds later…Contacts start to NOT change channels, and then it JUST STOPS..

Your LCD monitor TV..has a life expectancy of 5 years..Hmmm WHY? FEEL THE BACK..1 little fan could save it for a few more years..

A FLOOD on the market of CHEAP CRAP, that forces GOOD products to not be bought and the price goes up.. HOW do you compare CHEAP products..Find something with a FAIR price…YOU CANT..

Anonymous Coward says:

This is certainly not about fear of a few repair dollars going into the “wrong” hands. These companies have trillions of dollars. It’s painfully obvious that this about control, mainly in that they do not want repairmen to discover and subsequently expose the surveillance technology and methodologies both Apple and Verizon have colluded upon. That which is in use, and being used against you NOW (not in some “theoretical” future scenario).

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