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.

Filed Under: california, right to repair


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  1. identicon
    Bobvious, 23 Mar 2019 @ 5:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whataboutism

    "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."

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-21/eu-fines-google-nearly-one-and-a-half-billio n-for-antitrust/10923000

    "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] "

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initiative_for_a_Competitive_Online_Marketplace

    "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"

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almon_Strowger

    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"

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/ericsavitz/2012/07/02/if-you-cant-innovate-litigate/

    htt ps://thenextweb.com/insider/2012/04/20/losing-market-share-litigate-dont-innovate/

    https://www.virgi n.com/disruptors/if-you-cant-innovate-litigate-are-entrepreneurs-being-prevented-innovating

    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.


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