State of Washington bill would make it illegal to sell electronics that don’t have easily replaceable batteries

“A bill that would make it easier to fix your electronics is rapidly hurtling through the Washington state legislature,” Jason Koebler writes for Motherboard. “The bill’s ascent is fueled by Apple’s iPhone-throttling controversy, which has placed a renewed focus on the fact that our electronics have become increasingly difficult to repair.”

“‘It was introduced before [the throttling] news broke, but that’s become something constituents and legislators have sunk their teeth into,’ Jeff Morris, a Washington representative who introduced the bill told me on the phone,” Koebler writes. “Late last year, Apple confirmed that it slows down the processor speeds of iPhones with older batteries. This performance decrease can be fixed by replacing the battery, but Apple’s replacement program has a weeks-long waiting list and the company has fought against third-party repair of its phones at every turn.”

“A wave of so-called right-to-repair or fair repair bills that would prevent companies from having repair monopolies have been introduced in states around the country. Last year, 12 states introduced bills that would require electronics manufacturers to make repair information available to consumers and third-party repair shops and would require them to sell replacement parts for electronics,” Koebler writes. “It would also prevent them from using software locks to prevent repair or from remotely bricking electronics that use aftermarket parts.”

“The bill Morris introduced also goes further than any other state’s legislation because it seeks to tackle the growing trend of manufacturers creating electronics that have difficult-to-replace batteries,” Koebler writes. “Starting in 2019, the bill would ban the sale of electronics that are designed ‘in such a way as to prevent reasonable diagnostic or repair functions by an independent repair provider. Preventing reasonable diagnostic or repair functions includes permanently affixing a battery in a manner that makes it difficult or impossible to remove.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This ill-considered and heavy-handed bill should never be made law. It will retard innovation along with making products less secure, susceptible to water and dust damage, more expensive, and more dangerous.

We do not want to be trapped aboard a jetliner at 30,000 feet when some random unauthorized repair shop’s handiwork goes up in flames. It’s bad enough that there are some Samsung phones in steerage. We try not to think about that when flying.

As we wrote back in March:

Using authorized channels is the only way to ensure you are getting genuine Apple parts and that the repair will be done to the right specifications. With so many second-hand smartphones, for example, being sold and re-sold, how are buyers to know their battery is the genuine part and that it was correctly installed? How safe are would these smartphones be to have on airplanes, for example?

Certainly it can be dangerous to mishandle/damage lithium batteries during DYI repairs and the results can injure not just the repairer.

What if somebody’s half-assed DIY battery installation burns down an apartment building at 3am or sets fire to a plane in flight? When even Samsung can’t fix their own batteries correctly, we doubt every single Joe and Jane Sixpack would be able to manage a perfect battery installation every single time. It only takes one mistake to cause a tragedy.

Why Apple doesn’t want you repairing your broken iPhone or iPad yourself – July 12, 2017
Apple makes iPhone screen fixes easier as U.S. states mull ‘right to repair’ laws – June 7, 2017
Apple lobbying against ‘Right to Repair’ legislation, New York State records confirm – May 18, 2017
Apple fights against ‘right to repair’ – April 20, 2017
Apple fights ‘right to repair’ proposal; warns Nebraska could become a ‘Mecca for bad actors’ – March 10, 2017
Apple fights tooth and nail against ‘right to repair’ laws – March 8, 2017
Right to repair: Why Nebraska farmers are taking on John Deere and Apple – March 6, 2017
Right-to-Repair is ridiculous – February 16, 2017
Apple said to fight ‘Right to Repair’ legislation – February 15, 2017

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “TJ” for the heads up.]


      1. where the most populist city bans sugary drinks, EXCEPT when milk is the 1st ingredient. The City knew there’d be a riot if ban applied to all drinks, as crazed coffee, with sugar drinkers would go bezerk.
        Typical of all such, govt-as-mommy laws, there are other exceptions that make the law a convoluted nightmare. I’m sure the same would become the norm with above battery law. Humans will press on the “borders” until they fulfill their freedom of choice. And no law is going to prevent those w/o self-control from breaking the law, and or themselves. Should it be a surprise the bill’s author is a statist, mommy-as-govt kind of guy, or D?

          1. When it doesn’t take a bite of your dinner? I think the last word adjective is more fitting to you, as you deny the rational connection btwn D and the essence of the story. Did it melt the edges of your snowflake?

    1. Washington state is profoundly leftist. My, my, what will Tim Cook say now? Gee, Tim, progressives are disappointed in you. Shucks, Tim, your progressive credibility is under attack. What will you do? Cave under libtard ideology or stand your ground and resist? This is fun! I love it when Libtards attempt to out do each other on ideology.

          1. yes, it appears he have been stricken by, or revels in,
            an extremely rare condition known as

            “malignant maso-chismo”

            taking perverse pleasure in outbursts of bluster that then call down ridicule and opprobrium upon his head.

            It is, evidently, quite addictive, with no known treatment, let alone cure…. Well, other than the slow passage of time or bad eating habits…. Perhaps the president will invite him to join him at mar – a – lago in wolfing down a few big macs and fries, followed by a nice big slice of chocolate cake someday.

            “oh, death, where is thy sting”? to paraphrase Corinthians 15:55

      1. Probably, will do the same thing that they did with Tennessee‘s version of the law, fight to kill it. And I was hoping I would find that no red states had put up anything like this, but unfortunately, they have.

    2. Indeed. Now Washingtonians can cross the river and buy in Oregon, or just order online, further hurting local retailers. Seattle, errrrr, Washington is full of geniuses. They reside in the Capital in Olympia, but still, remove King County (Seattle) from Washington and the state would be shift massively red. Remove Portland from all of Oregon and poof, it’s red in the Capital.

      I want Oregon and Washington to do what people of CA are working on – split Oregon and Washington down the spine of the Cascades. Sane people can move east, while the “keep Portland – AKA Tent City – Weird” can stay west of the cascades and soon blame everyone on the east side for all their problems… Ha.

        1. Hey, a fellow racist! Hi, Wrong Again. Come join us and drool along with your favorite chants and revel in white supremacy along with the Trump Administration. Sure, most of the world is repulsed by our moronic myopia and our paralyzing fear of mating with pretty much anyone further away than a first cousin, but WHITE POWER my brothers, amirite?

  1. What I reckon’d be more useful would be making it illegal to sell computers that don’t have easily replaceable and upgradeable RAM, SSD/HD, etc. (Dream on, dream on…)

  2. You won’t be seeing many sat navs, personal fitness monitors or digital watches sold in Washington if this ever becomes law. Even the rechargeable lights on my children’s bikes could fall foul of this law.

    With regards to iPhones, much would depend on how they define “difficult or impossible to remove”. If by that they mean that the user must be able to change a battery without the use of tools, then that would be a huge problem for manufacturers. At the other extreme, if it were acceptable for a battery to be replaceable by third party technicians, then that’s where we are at the moment for many devices.

    1. To eliminate any ‘unreasonable’ bans, the bill may set a cost ‘floor’ of electronics effected by the law should it be passed. (e.g. electronics costing less than $100 may still contain non-user serviceable batteries)

  3. i don’t see how $29 (or even $79) for battery replacement isn’t “easy”. weeks of waiting? pfft. that’s not a reality. allowing joe schmo & associates to operate a fly-by-nite battery replacement actually makes matters worse, and creates a potentially lethal situation (and not just for the owner–see MDN’s take about being on an aircraft at 30,000 feet with a potentially explosive battery).
    is anyone else getting tired of fear being used as a primary motivator?

    iPhones being throttled to elongate their usefulness is a far from a lethal threat that needs to be dealt with by government. how many people have died as a result of drunk drivers? how many people have died as a result of cigarette smoking (i’m a smoker myself, not a hater, so dont get off topic)? how many people have died as a result of innocent gunfire (18 mass shootings in the US so far this year, and we are only 26 days in)?
    but easy replacement of batteries in electronic devices? THIS MUST BE ADDRESSED POST HASTE!!
    please. spare me… $29 bucks IS an easy replacement.

    this is a waste of legislative time, and your tax dollars. contact your representative ASAP and ask them to focus on shit that really matters.

    1. I was disappointed to find that the “weeks of waiting” is in fact a reality. At the Apple Store in San Mateo (Hillsdale Mall) yesterday, they told me that most people end up having to wait two weeks to a month for the battery.

    1. Contol freaks and intolerant bunch of hypocrites.
      Yet they call themselves ‘liberals’….the biggest misnomer!

      Libs have destroyed their own image in the past 10 years. Wasnt the case before that. They have turned into greedy, controling, arrogant and cunning bunch.

      Sorry libs.. you brought this onto yourselves.. you have only yourselves to blame !

        1. Words are everything.

          I don’t think authoritarianism is inherently bad, except for the number of syllables. It depends on the authoritarian. Consider Russia. If it’s Catherine the Great, good. If it’s Josef Stalin, bad. As for the word liberal, that word has been deliberately stained by US political partisans to imply a philosophy of taking from the rich, whose wealth was presumably achieved by merit, and giving to the poor, who are manifestly unworthy. Yes, I am aware that the idea of lower-class resentment and moral entitlement goes back to Rennaisance times, but it has been recently revived and labelled “liberal” — so we need replacement words to discriminate between the filthy rich and those who are merely filthy. “Conservative” sounds respectible and “liberal” sounds shitty. Even “democrat,” “fairness,” and “justice” have fallen to the linguistic firing squad. George Orwell saw it coming, and now it’s here: truth is nothing more than a pinwheel in a child’s hand.

    2. as a result of the flurry and friction of Kent’s downvotes. Congrats Kent, you have hit the highest count of either up/down votes in the MDN world.
      On the other hand, please be mindful of the youngsters you’ve upset…there’s a lot of hurtin people on the site.

  4. “Preventing reasonable diagnostic or repair functions includes permanently affixing a battery in a manner that makes it difficult or impossible to remove.’”

    iPhone batteries are not permanatly affixed or impossible to remove.

    They can ‘Easily’ be replaced by authorized Apple stores and technicians. (Which is the safest way to go about it anyway)

        1. So many crybabies on the left they have to rig even a rating system to look like winners!!!

          If there were this many numbers for ALL comments (or most, good or bad) it wouldn’t be so obvious.

          Apparently someone has waaaay too much time (and probably a government income of some sorts…..)

          1. Come on, TT. It is, as you say, obviously ONE crybaby, with too much time on his hands, subsidised ny the government, who is jacking the system! Numbers of crybabies don’t coordinate attacks or anything else. Yet you can’t resist characterising the Left as having an abundance of crybabies — so desperate that they must resort to tactics like this that fool no one. There have been a number of attacks from the opposite quarter over the years, at this very website, if you would be so fair as to remember.

            1. Oh I remember a lot.
              Believe me, a LOT!
              And to that I have no regrets for what I say about the uber left anymore.
              I’m fed up with trying to communicate with them.
              Reality means absolutely nothing to them.

  5. Further attempts at government inflicted Clunk Factor derived from technology ignorance, aka stifling innovation for the sake of Granny. Or as I always say:

    TechTardiness Is Rampant.

    Sometimes I almost wish we had an Intelligentsia running the show, those university professors and technocrats et al. who scare the hell out of the Ignorami.

    1. Totally stupid. A great example of the road to hell being paved with good intentions.
      But this level of political competence enabled a Trump to be President.
      The seat is now soiled, how about a Kardashian next. Pick one.

      1. The reality is this type of liberal thinking DEMANDED a Trump-type person to reign it in.

        (and the only “good intentions” are to further a nanny-state political career)

          1. Not liberal in the classic sense, but every bit liberal in the leftist style.
            Just look at the states that enact MOST of these inane laws. Probably 90% Democrat.

        1. Rein it in, not reign it in. As in rein in your stallion, to check a horse or metaphorically stop another action threatening to get out of hand. Reign refers to monarchs, like Mary, Queen of Scots or to periods of oppression like the Reign of Terror in France in 1793. In all cases it does involve telling people, or horses, to do what they may not particularly feel like doing. Meanwhile, Trump continues to rain on the liberal parade. If he keeps it up long enough, perhaps they’ll all wash away in a yellow slurry.

  6. If Apple were really innovative, they’d come out with laptops, phones, tablets with easily replaceable batteries like what they did before with the Powerbook Bronze. You could just pull on a lever and it ejects the battery or DVD drive or hard drive. It was really cool and convenient. Something Apple hasn’t been in a long time.

    1. I’ll agree with you to a certain point but the degree of space compression in an iPhone is way more than those wonderful laptop Though I have to say it would be nice.

      However, case in point, one feature of having the battery designed the way it is is that it makes the device water resistant or water proof depending, same with the applewatch, because those devices have a lot more probability of contact with water.

      They are designing a feature based on a tightly compressed hermetically sealed system.

      Thanks for that slice of insight.

      1. Couldn’t they just engineer a hermetically sealed device that had a battery compartment with a rubber seal at the battery contact point and still be water resistant?

        1. That’s a brilliant idea and certainly one that crossed my mind but further down the line. They had to work out making the Apple watch water resistant first, not an easy task.

          I still think the size of the actual device will require some engineering excellence to create a battery that can be easily replaced by the user. Maybe with this battery fiasco they will consider such an idea.

          Meanwhile though I am quite content with the way they have it now, getting those devices water resistant in the first place is an engineering marvel.

          1. Do you guys even know what shape batteries are these days?

            In order to make devices as small as possible, batteries are now made in custom shapes and in some devices, the battery varies greatly in thickness to fit around the other major components in three dimensions.

            If you were to create some sort of battery hatch with a rubber seal, you’l be doubling the thickness of an iPhone and also creating a massive weak point – not only for mechanical stress, but for water ingress.

            It’s a batshit crazy idea, even by the standards of 2018 politics and I couldn’t imagine that this legislation will ever be approved unless there is a powerful lobby spending huge amounts of money to make this happen to gain some sort of commercial advantage.

            1. I think your post is to Xennex 1170 as I’m leaning more towards your rational.

              Not only are batteries different shapes as you point out but they are also very small compared to the mainstream batteries out there.

              That aside keeping the unit sealed, and resealing it after a battery replacement is no easy feat, hence the replacement charge.

              I think the law is kind of a knee jerk reaction myself, hopefully it won’t see the light of day.

            2. I am fully aware that batteries can be shaped, especially if it is lithium ion. It is not unreasonable however to design a new smartphone that is slim and totally water resistant but has no internal battery and relies on a external battery, maybe in the shape of some kind of casing, and has a waterproof seal at the power connection port. It would be completely user replaceable without opening up the main unit resulting in breaking any waterproofing there.. It has the added security benefit of cutting off all power to the phone should there be a need.

      2. As far as the Apple Watch battery, why not put the battery in the watch band. Solves so many issues: Can have multiple batteries (bands) charging at one time. Makes the watch thinner (my main peeve). As batteries go back just turn them in for environmental disposal. Can make a absolutely watertight enclosure.

  7. The elite don’t bother with geeky, DIY nonsense like replaceable batteries. They will buy an electronic or mechanical item for its intrinsic style and elegance. The elite have money to spend on such ephemeral things, and every retailer hopes to attract them as buyers, because they will buy again. Cheapskates won’t. Of course, this begs the question, why is Apple so successful if their designs violate geek principles, whilst adhering to elite principles, when both groups are minorities in the market they serve? I believe the answer is
    that Apple designs products for everyone, regardless of fashion sense or technical proficiency, and is basically in the smart jewelry business. Even geeks love bling, but they are shy about admitting it—they disguise it with talk of gigabytes and such. We are all human and adopt poses.

  8. I want to be able to upgrade or replace my RAM and hard drive in my Macs. It’s part Apple’s fault that this law is coming. I agree with the danger of replacing batteries with other than the original batteries. But the law also says that such parts must be made available to repair shops. So this would actually lower the risk of getting a cheap battery.

    1. Manufacturers have always had the right to build devices, cars, washing machines and televisions which knowledgeable owners could repair by themselves, but they don’t choose to exercise that right.

      I used to repair my own cars and rebuilt engines for racing purposes and knew my way around an engine very well. These days, when I look inside the engine compartment, I would struggle to name half of the components in there and would struggle even more to explain what they do and how they work. I never for one moment imagined that it was a cunning plot to stop me tinkering with my car, I always realised that it was because we now expect much higher performance and efficiency from our engines and achieving that requires making the engine much more complex.

      I can remember in the 1960’s being excited at getting 200HP out of a 2 litre engine through esoteric modifications, painstaking reworking and careful tuning. These days, the engine in ordinary family cars produce a power output of 100HP per litre.

      1. As a teenager I was able to relate well with the boys because I could tune up a car. The more studious lads in my class were impressed that I had learnt to program some of the early computers like TRS-80 or Apple II. I certainly enjoyed the attention I got in either case, but these days the bloom is off the rose, in more ways than one. Ah, the equations of sweet youth: they were solved, eventually, but not always to our total benefit.

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