27 'Right To Repair' Laws Proposed This Year. Giants Like Apple Have Ensured None Have Passed So Far.

from the this-isn't-going-away dept

We’ve repeatedly noted how the “right to repair” movement has been gaining a full head of steam as consumers, independent repair shops, schools, farmers, and countless others grow tired of corporations’ attempts to monopolize repair. Whether it’s Sony and Microsoft creating repair monopolies for their game consoles, Apple bullying independent repair shops, or John Deere making it a costly hassle just to fix a tractor, the more companies restrict access to cheap repair, parts, tools, and documentation, the more this movement seems to grow. Especially in the COVID era where the problem has also hindered health care.

Bloomberg notes that 27 states have considered right to repair legislation so far this year, making access to essential tools and less expensive repair options a legal right. But corporations have shot down all of them so far, in part thanks to a misleading, coordinated lobbying campaign falsely claiming that reform on this front poses dramatic privacy and security harms:

“One reason these legislative efforts have failed is the opposition, which happens to sell boatloads of new devices every year. Microsoft?s top lawyer advocated against a repair bill in its home state. Lobbyists for Google and Amazon.com Inc. swooped into Colorado this year to help quash a proposal. Trade groups representing Apple Inc. successfully buried a version in Nevada. Telecoms, home appliance firms and medical companies also opposed the measures, but few have the lobbying muscle and cash of these technology giants. While tech companies face high-profile scrutiny in Washington, they quietly wield power in statehouses to shape public policy and stamp out unwelcome laws.”

Bloomberg doesn’t even get into many of the sleazier efforts on this front, like the auto industry’s false claims that right to repair reform would be of great benefit to stalkers and sexual predators. Or Apple’s false claim that giving consumers more rights over things they own would turn states into dangerous meccas for hackers. Despite the fact the FTC recently released a report making it clear the vast majority of these claims aren’t substantiated, the scare mongering has been extremely effective at befuddling confused or financially-conflicted lawmakers.

The existing broken, wasteful system is hugely lucrative for major companies, even if it harms the planet, annoys countless consumers, and makes everyday life more expensive for school districts:

“Around 10 to 15% of a district?s devices end up needing repairs during a typical school year, according to Millman. One Long Island district he works with has over 13,000 iPads in circulation. He estimates that they have around $130,000 a year in repair costs. If the district had to replace all the broken iPads, rather than fix them, that cost jumps up a quarter of a million dollars.

?That?s why Apple doesn?t answer my emails,? Millman said. ?For them, it?s just dollars and cents. They don?t think about the person on the other side of the iPad.”

It’s tough to pass reform when you’ve got a vast coalition of extremely wealthy and powerful corporations all working in concert to fight it (see: the long uphill climb on passing even a very basic US privacy law). But with right to repair, there’s a massive, bipartisan coalition of folks whose ranks only grow bigger the more these companies press their luck.

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Companies: apple

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Comments on “27 'Right To Repair' Laws Proposed This Year. Giants Like Apple Have Ensured None Have Passed So Far.”

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19 Comments
bobob says:

This kind of shit is very frustrating. Although it’s not much consolence, people are going to do this shit in spite of what apple, john deere or anyone else does to stop them. Unfortunately, before those companies wise up, there has to be some collateral damage to their bottom line from the fallout of their shortsighted attempts to monetize anything and everything.

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Rocky says:

Re:

You seem to dishonestly and intentionally conflate Apple’s services with the inability for a person to repair a phone they own. Also, the corollary to your argument is that if someone owns an iPhone for example, why can’t they do whatever they want with it?

TL;DR: Your argument is stupid on many levels.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So you’d have no problem with buying a new car and the maker telling you that you can only use Sonoco gas? Been around to see how many gas stations they have? Is pretty much the same thing.

When you buy something it’s yours unless it’s a rental. This is the same fight the public had with car codes. Makers claimed the codes to tell what was wrong with the car were trade secrets and would not be released. This near put shade tree mechanics out of business. Only ones that could tell what was wrong with the car, were the expensive dealerships. Congress had to make a special law to remove the trade secret and make it publicly available.

This is not the first time the right to repair or the ability to choose who do to those repairs on some product you’ve purchased has come up.

Obviously either the starter of this comment is a troll or has a vested interest in going against public need.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

So you’d have no problem with buying a new car and the maker telling you that you can only use Sonoco gas?

That’s a strange phrasing of a question. Perhaps the person you’re replying to does have a problem with the behavior, and avoids buying Apple products for that reason—just as they’d avoid the hypothetical car. One could go so far as to say the proposed laws as undemocratic, because if 50% of people supported such a law, they wouldn’t need one: they’d refuse to buy the products, and companies would have to choice but to cave to the pressure. Things would be different in a oligopoly, but locked-down phones are not (yet) an oligopoly.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"One could go so far as to say the proposed laws as undemocratic, because if 50% of people supported such a law, they wouldn’t need one: they’d refuse to buy the products, and companies would have to choice but to cave to the pressure. Things would be different in a oligopoly, but locked-down phones are not (yet) an oligopoly."

It’s never quite that easy. For the consumer buying a John Deere tractor he’s just invested a sizeable chunk of money in a product he’s been told is one of the best in the market. Only two years down the road does he encounter the issue that the product came with strings attached at which means he’s stuck either forking out money for a whole new truck or see himself held in bondage to expensive repairs which keep cutting his margins.

This sort of shit will never impact 50%. It might impact 10%. The rest of the american voters will all go "Fsck it, not my problem".

And here’s the issue with your argument – the same applies to women voting rights and the abolition of slavery. What you vote for and lobby for is for people to be in charge who will do the right thing. You will rarely, if ever, see any candidate riding a platform of, oh, getting rid of prohibition, legalizing pot, expanding voting rights or the right to repair.

That’s not how democracy works, and saying "It’ll fix itself if 50% or more want it to be fixed" is a backhanded way of saying that the majority should tyrannize the minority.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

As for "Its apple’s platform, they should be able". Yes it is. Apple benefits from government action on their part, like patent protection (which solidifies their business and makes it dofficult for third party replacements to exist). As such the government has moral right to force them to comply with reasonable regulation. Right to repair might be one example.

Anonymous Coward says:

as usual, Apple is leading the charge to stop people from actually owning what they’ve bought which should then come with the right to do whatever you want with it. that, obviously, includes repairing it, if necessary! the people at Apple, i am sure, dont call out someone to repair whatever it is that they own and has gone wrong. they give it a go themselves!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It’s worth remembering that Apple was founded by two hackers—criminal hackers, even, though they were never prosecuted for exploiting the phone company’s network. It’s unlikely that any non-hacker purchased an Apple I during its original run; the Apple II sold to the general public, but would never have been popular without the work of independent hackers.

Richard M (profile) says:

How about an alternate headline

27 ‘Right To Repair’ Laws Proposed This Year. Crooked politicians accepting Bribes have ensured none have passed so far.

Yes I know that technically most of the money is "campaign contributions" but if it quacks like a duck then…

I have always found it odd that the companies attempting to bribe politicians are made out to be the primary bad guys.

Yes it is sketchy behavior but in my opinion the crooked politicians accepting those bribes and selling out the people that voted them into office is much worse.

Space5000 (profile) says:

What Free Country?

It’s really ironic that this is a country that is supposed to be way more about basic rights, possibly than many other countries, and yet it ends up being nearly the complete opposite (obviously not completely) with many poor decisions and/or lack of specific decisions. Certain companies taking away a basic specific property right is one of those examples.

It used to be better too: for example, we didn’t ban many flavored beer, we moderated it. Today: We ban most flavored vaping because fear. If today was back then, we would of likely banned the rest of the flavored beer. So fear-based belief that fuels states acting like this so fast, especially on ridiculous fear just shows how much of a dangerous path we failed to stay away.

Maybe I’m going a bit crazy, but I’m just infuriated how easy it is to lose even a simple right like this due to a simple fear-based argument made by rich companies so fast.

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