California Right To Repair Bill Gets Scuttled By Lobbyists

from the not-really-a-democracy dept

On both the state and federal level, a flood of new bills are targeting companies’ efforts to monopolize repair by implementing obnoxious DRM, making repair tools and manuals hard to find, bullying independent repair shops (like Apple does), or forcing tractor owners to drive hundreds of miles just to get their tractor repaired (one of John Deere’s favorite pastimes).

But in California, efforts to pass a right to repair law recently ran into headwinds despite overwhelming public support for the measure. SB 983 would have dramatically boosted state residents’ and small repair shop’s ability to access to parts, tools, and service information needed to fix consumer electronics and appliances, lowering costs for consumers and reducing overall waste.

75% of Californians and majorities of both political parties support right to repair. And while this effort was the closest a right to repair effort has gotten to becoming law, it still couldn’t overcome lobbying influence according to CALPIRG:

“Sadly, the powerful tech manufacturers won out over the everyday Californians and small businesses that would benefit from Right to Repair. SB 983 could have saved California households as much as $4.3 billion a year in reduced spending on electronics and helped Californians reduce toxic electronic waste. Instead, industry groups’ heavy lobbying effort helped to kill the bill.”

As usual, industry reps like Technet tried to paint the right to repair effort as a threat to consumer safety and privacy in local media:

“Consumers, businesses of all sizes, schools and hospitals need to know that the people who repair their products will do so safely, securely and correctly,” Dylan Hoffman, TechNet’s Executive Director of California and the Southwest, said in a statement. “So-called ‘right-to-repair’ bills would result in serious harm to consumers’ privacy and safety by providing sensitive security information and equipment to anyone who wants it, regardless of whether they’ve been trained, certified, or vetted.”

Dominant companies looking to monopolize repair routinely trot out all kinds of false, scary stories to justify their behavior and opposition to these bills, including claims the laws will help sexual predators or turn states into diabolical meccas for hackers. Despite the claims being false, they provide companies just enough flimsy cover in corrupt state legislatures to scuttle bills that have broad public support.

A CALPIRG survey of 63 local repair shops found that 59% said they might have to close without the bill passing. We talk endlessly about our support for small businesses. And we talk endlessly about the need to embrace policies that aid the environment. And we talk endlessly about the benefits of American democracy and the power of the vote. Yet here we are again, with beneficial, hugely popular bills on the cutting room floor because some big companies didn’t want their power challenged.

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Comments on “California Right To Repair Bill Gets Scuttled By Lobbyists”

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Pixelation says:

Lobby Logic

“Look what happens when you get your car repaired at a non-dealership shop after it gets in an accident. They still get in accidents! See, it’s dangerous!”

This is where the Conservatives and Libertarians should come out in support. The market will take care of itself. If you get bad repairs from a non-manufacturer repair shop, people will be leaving bad reviews and those shops will go out of business.

TKnarr (profile) says:

Maybe it might help if proponents of the bill bring up the story about the John Deere dealer flatly refusing to repair a John Deere tractor, and counter the lobbyists with the demand that if the manufacturer gets to be the only source of repairs then the manufacturer has to take on a legal obligation to repair any in-service device. They don’t have to do it under warranty, but they can’t refuse a repair request for any reason other than refusal to pay by the customer. And “in-service” means just exactly that: the device was in service before the repair was requested. The manufacturer’s supported lifetime is irrelevant, only whether the customer was using it or not. Alternatively, the in-service lifetime can be determined by the expected time-to-failure of the actual electronics. Not the time until the manufacturer considers them obsolete, the time until they can be expected to start physically failing. Replaceable components like batteries don’t count against that lifetime since they’re expected to be replaced during the usable lifespan of the device (if the manufacturer designs the device so replaceable components can’t actually be replaced that’s the manufacturer’s problem, not the customer’s).

Alternatively, if they don’t want to take on the responsibilities of having a monopoly on repair then they can give up that monopoly.

TKnarr (profile) says:


Oh, and for any argument that complex electronics can’t be expected to last that long, bear in mind that the average lifespan of the x86 PCs I build is 12-15 years before they start suffering failures of non-upgradable components. The most common reason I replace cel phones is inability to get replacement batteries when the existing ones fail, followed by physical damage to the screen (which should be repairable, but usually the new screen costs almost as much as a complete new phone would) or the USB port (same deal). I’ve yet to have one die because the electronics or screen actually failed other than because of physical damage. So yes, you absolutely can expect complex electronics to last a lot longer than the manufacturers would like them to.

discussitlive (profile) says:

Re: Re: complex electronics lifespan

I recall from 40 years ago that “slow blow” fuses that didn’t look like a fuse were a thing. A “slow blow” is usually filled with sand to dissipate some heat for a limited time, thus slowing when the fuse would melt and open the circuit. Someone figured out that if a mild granular acid was mixed with the sand, the percentage used was a fairly consistent failure rate over time. Once techs caught on to that, OEMs switched to designing the failure mode to ensure that the device was destroyed when the fuse blew. So we started replacing the fuse right before warranty expired. Then they ….
and around and around it went, until copyright.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: try this

Wow, I can show you some x86 machines older then MOSt of these corps. My AMIGA lasted 20 years. ANd I had to fix a few things. Anyone have a C64 around??

LOVE those 1 year warranties? And they can fix it, in 30 days, not counting Shipping times??
Any one here replace a heating element or heat sEnsor in a DRYER??? HOW ABOUT THE Lid switch on the washer??

Anyone Buy those Nice small stoves for the counter or a New microwave and have the display fail?? Number pad go out?
The Original Computer controls, ODB1, was designed in a Blazer(look it up), and 1 day they took the Blazer out to test in the fields. And hit a Big Bump, which BANGED the computer and left the Blazer out in the field, to be Towed back.
AND they still have not created a Bypass for those controllers, so you can GET out of the Mud.

Who wants the story of remote access of a Like car from Germany, Owner controlling one in Australia?

Anonymous Coward says:

we all know it’s bullshit spoken simply to enforce greedy companies but why is so much notice taken of this by the powers that make the decision to enable or scrap laws? is there so much cash, so many backhander payments being made? unbelievable that things that people buy are classed as not owned by them but still part of the company selling them. this goes back, if i remember correctly, to the case over Sony and the operating system and the corrupt fucking judge who ruled for the company! look how the bandwagon has been weighed down, not just jumped on!

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