California Becomes 20th State To Push 'Right to Repair' Legislation

from the monopolized-repair dept

A few years back, frustration at John Deere’s draconian tractor DRM culminated in a grassroots tech movement. The company’s crackdown on “unauthorized repairs” turned countless ordinary citizens into technology policy activists, after DRM and the company’s EULA prohibited the lion-share of repair or modification of tractors customers thought they owned. These restrictions only worked to drive up costs for owners, who faced either paying significantly more money for “authorized” repair, or toying around with pirated firmware just to ensure the products they owned actually worked.

The John Deere fiasco resulted in the push for a new “right to repair” law in Nebraska that not only proposed protecting the consumers’ right to repair their own tech, but protected independent, third-party repair shops from efforts by many major companies to monopolize repair (Apple and game console vendors like Sony and Microsoft usually come first to mind). This push then quickly spread to multiple other states, driven by a groundswell of consumer annoyance.

Last week, California became the twentieth state in the country to support such a law. It’s the second year in a row the legislation has been proposed, with the folks at iFixit explaining that this latest version eyes simply updating the state’s existing lemon law:

Last year?s bill was proposed to California law at large, while this year?s bill is an amendment to California?s effective Lemon Law, a.k.a. the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. Unique to the state of California, this law requires companies to provide a repair option. It?s been effective at making sure that you can get your six-year-old MacBook Pro fixed by Apple in California?a service that Apple refuses to perform across the border in Arizona. But manufacturers found a loophole in the law allowing them to monopolize repair rather than providing parts to the repair provider of the consumer?s choice. This bill closes that loophole.

Granted the reason no bill has actually been passed yet is thanks to the extensive lobbying done by companies including Verizon, Microsoft, Apple, and Sony, who obviously don’t want smaller independent shops (or smart consumers) eroding their repair revenues. More often than not, these companies have tried to scare folks away from such legislation by insisting it will create all manner of new and diabolical privacy and security problems. Apple in particular notoriously warned that the law in Nebraska would somehow make the state a “mecca for hackers.”

The efforts proceed all the same. Of the 20 state laws proposed, Minnesota’s effort (which has now passed through two state committees) has managed to proceed the furthest. For its part, iFixit notes that the legislation doesn’t just aid consumer rights, it can help rein in waste made worse by companies like Apple which impose counterproductive restrictions on re-use and recycling:

“Consumers should have the right to choose their repair provider. Increasing independent repair options will encourage people to fix the electronics and appliances they already own, rather than toss their broken belongings and buy new ones. Independent and self-repair also help people save money, create local jobs, and prevent e-waste?which is now the fastest growing waste stream in the world.”

And while numerous giants are working hand-in-hand to scuttle such legislation, it seems like 2019 is likely to see the first such bill finally passed, with many more clearly waiting in the wings as consumers grow increasingly annoyed by high costs and arbitrary restrictions.

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Comments on “California Becomes 20th State To Push 'Right to Repair' Legislation”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Same stupid reason printers time out the cartridges even before they get empty and won’t work. The claim is to protect the printer, but it’s just to make you spend more money faster. The price of cartridges has gotten so it’s cheaper to throw the printer away and buy a new one since that cost is less than new cartridges. So much for Green Policies at tech companies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: You mean THIS Micro$oft? This Appl€?

Companies attacking Google in Europe for "monopoly":


Companies that provide alternative internet search options:


Companies monopolizing repair in the US:


Pots calling kettles black:


Bobvious says:

Re: Re: Re:2 You mean THIS Micro$oft? This Appl€?



(emphasis mine)

"Companies attacking Google in Europe for "monopoly":


I think Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2019 @ 6:26pm was addressing the "monopoly" and "right to repair" that was queried by Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2019 @ 5:24pm.

Both Mi¢®o$o£t and Appl€ provide PLATFORMS upon which users can initiate alternative internet searches if they wish, using engines other than Google.

Ultimately it is the height of hypocrisy for those two to cry "Google monopoly", when they set the bar in the first place.

Bobvious says:

Re: Re: Re:4 You mean THIS Micro$oft? This Appl€

"Whataboutism (also known as whataboutery) is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent’s position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument,[1][2][3] which in the United States is particularly associated with Soviet and Russian propaganda."

"Google’s foe, the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, said regulators should stay vigilant. "Competitors have withered or died. It’s time for the EU and governments around the world to step in and address the underlying wrong," its chairman, Michael Weber, said in a statement."

"The Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace or ICOMP is a lobbying organisation and based in London with a membership including various publishing and software companies. It exists to lobby legislators to take measures to increase competition in online advertising, to regulate the collection of information about online users and protect the rights of authors and publishers.[1]
The Daily Telegraph has described ICOMP as "a organisation whose sole purpose appears to be to attack Google".[3] The Register[6] published an article following the submission of a complaint by Foundem to the European Commission suggesting that an attempt on behalf of Google was to focus on Microsoft’s membership of ICOMP to “deflect attention from its antitrust issues”[7] ICOMP legal counsel David Wood submitted a response to these media criticisms, accusing Google of making "seriously misleading statements" about ICOMP, and of "Shooting the messenger to avoid having to deal with unpalatable messages".[8]

As of late 2016, Microsoft no longer financially supports ICOMP. `After Microsoft withdrew its financial support, some voting members also left ICOMP. One such member, Foundem, left due to alleged internal disputes about shifting the sole purpose of ICOMP away from Google’s alleged anti-competitive practices. The details of the events leading to Foundem’s claims of ICOMP working against a free internet are unknown, but ICOMP has acknowledged that the organisation is "aligning [its] focus to evolving interests of [its] membership." [9] "

"Almon Brown Strowger (February 11, 1839 – May 26, 1902) was an American inventor who gave his name to the Strowger switch, an electromechanical telephone exchange technology that his invention and patent inspired.
Anecdotally, Strowger’s undertaking business was losing clients to a competitor whose telephone-operator wife was redirecting everyone who called for Strowger.[1] Motivated to remove the intermediary operator, he invented the first automatic telephone exchange in 1889"

Almon Strowger didn’t run whinging to the regulators about the effect his competitor was having on his business. He came up with an ALTERNATIVE, and he INNOVATED. As has been stated elsewhere about legacy business dinosaurs "If you can’t innovate, litigate"

and so on.

But rather than focus on their OWN ability to provide ALTERNATIVE search results, these same companies that are fighting YOUR right to repair, are attacking Google through proxies.

So NO. NOT Whataboutism. Merely pointing out that those same companies are also stifling alternatives elsewhere.

Out_of_Lube and Jhon Smith will no doubt be happy to stifle your right to repair. TD is often accused of being an echo chamber, but clearly not all of us agree on everything all the time.

Anonymous Coward says:

as right as it is, this ‘right to repair’ isn’t the law that needs changing or introducing, as the case may be. what is needed is that when you buy something, you ACTUALLY FUCKING WELL OWN IT! the judge who first decided that this isn’t the case needs stringing up by the nuts, covering in honey and lowering on to an ants nest! i mean, come on! what a friggin dick head! i wonder what he got for arriving at that ruling??

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So we need a certain outcome, and what we get is a major step in the right direction, and therefore because the judge didn’t go further on a case that wasn’t actually about anything further, he was horrendously wrong and needs to be punished severely?

Does not compute! And even if you’re right, you’re still wrong. Judges going far beyond the bounds of what a case is about is how we end up with legal abominations such as the Citizens United ruling.

stine (profile) says:

so what.

I think the ‘right to repair’ crowd are conflating two different things. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and AM (after market) parts. I’m all for allowing 3rd pary repair shops to purchase use AM parts to repair iPhones. I’m also for Apple being able to prevent OEM’s from selling OEM parts in the AM market. I’m also 100% behind Apple in its decision to only repair OEM-only hardware. So, if you have your power connector replaced with an AM connector, Apple shoud be within its rights to tell you to take it to the 3rd party repair shop for everything else.

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