California to introduce ‘right to repair’ bill which Apple opposes

“California is preparing to join several other states with a new Right to Repair bill, which will require smartphone manufacturers to provide repair information, replacement parts, and diagnostic tools to product owners and independent repair shops,” Juli Clover reports for MacRumors.

“California Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman this afternoon announced plans to introduce the new California Right to Repair Act,” Clover reports. “Eggman says the bill will provide consumers with the freedom to choose a repair shop of their choice.”

“Since last year, Apple has been lobbying against Right to Repair bills in various states, as have several other technology companies,” Clover reports. “In Nebraska, for example, Apple said approving Right to Repair would turn the state into a “mecca for bad actors” making it “easy for hackers to relocate to Nebraska.” Other arguments from tech companies and appliance manufacturers have suggested Right to Repair bills would compromise device security and safety. ”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This ill-considered 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 last 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.

SEE ALSO:
State of Washington bill would make it illegal to sell electronics that don’t have easily replaceable batteries – January 26, 2018
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

20 Comments

  1. Instead of a law to force companies to make devices user repairable, perhaps a law to cap repair costs to a certain percentage of purchase/manufacture cost would prevent ‘bad’ actors from inserting themselves into the repair process and provide some peace of mind for those that require affordable repair services.

    1. Not sure where MDN’s paranoia is coming from. When you board an airplane, you’re already putting your life in the hands of lowest-bidder maintenance contracts. Your luggage is being searched by poorly-trained bandits from the TSA and handled by lowest-bidder baggage handlers. That’s why it always ends up half ransacked in a city distant from your destination.

      This is simple. Apple wants to protect its quasi-monopoly on repair to push customers towards buying new hardware. Any objections to the contrary are nonsense. Apple is a bad company for doing this.

    1. Imagine that, conservatives wanting a big brother government telling companies run their business : with anti trade protectionism interface.

      See how stupid your screed is?

  2. I’ve been taking apart, modifying, and replacing parts including batteries in all my Apple products starting with my Newton and will continue to do so.

    Thank you IFixit for filling an essential role in today’s economy.

    If Apple was really concerned about safety, they would make the IPhone battery easily replaceable and sell reasonably priced Apple branded batteries. They don’t, so we do the best we can in our workshops.

    Oh, I don’t fly steerage, I fly business class.

  3. Of course there should be a right to repair anything wherever and however the customer sees fit.

    The way every product is turning into a non-serviceable blob of glue is one big pile of bullshit.

  4. Not sure I agree with either Apple or the MacDaily take on this. The assumption is that cheap knockoffs will be the only items that will flood the market. But why not assume some of the parts will be upgrades? Wouldn’t it be nice to replace the current radio chip with one that support AM/FM reception? Or include CB frequencies in addition to/instead of the cell frequency? Or an audio meter? Once you have a right to repair, you also have a right to innovate.

    Right to repair has been part of the car industry for decades, Sure there are knock-off parts that suck, but there also improved parts available as well.

  5. Imagine of your car maker said you had no right to open the hood of your car, could only have it repaired at their facilities, use only their approved parts, etc.

    Imagine the same for your House. It can only be maintained by the company that built it and it was built in such a way as to preclude you or a third party maintaining it.

    That is what Apple is doing and pushing. Claiming to be green, they encourage the wasteful use of throwaway phones that are difficult to repair and have steadily extended that to computers.

    1. Interesting analogy. It has some merit, but only to a point.

      Do you actually work on your own vehicles? I have wrenched for the past four decades and more. When I was 12 years old, my father told me that I was responsible for all car repairs, from basic maintenance activities to brakes, exhaust systems, engine accessories, timing gears/chains, and more intensive stuff. The only thing that I have not done is rebuild an automatic transmission.

      Car makers have modularized so much stuff in modern cars and integrated functions with the main or auxiliary computers and sensors that they are not nearly so “repairable” as you would like to believe. Sure, you can raise the hood, but what then? I had a problem with the A/C on a 2003 Ford Mustang. It turns out that there is a remote relay box hidden in the front passenger wheel well. Not only is the A/C clutch controlled in this box, but also other critical functions like the fuel pump. It was hidden in a difficult to access location and riveted shut. When you drill it open, you will find the relays soldered onto a PCB rather than being socketed. But, I will admit, you can buy a replacement module for over $300. Or you can reflow the solder on the $5 relay.

      When it comes to laws, you cannot go by the catchy name. The “Patriot Act,” for instance, had nothing to do with patriotism and everything to do with state surveillance within the borders of the U.S. — really an Anti-Patriot Act if you ask me. “Right to Repair” sounds good at first blush, but what is really in the bill and how will it impact product design? As MDN notes, it could lead to faulty and dangerously flawed repairs that endanger others.

      You have a right to buy, or not to buy. If you do not like sealed computers then vote with your dollar and buy a different product. You may have to give something up, but that is life and it is not always fair. Sure, if every manufacturer began selling only sealed systems, then that would be a problem for you. But, I repeat, life is not fair.

      Where does the “right to repair” begin and end? What is its scope? Is it constrained or triggered by dollar value or the market segment of the product? Should it apply to the computer inside of your car? Because I am willing to bet a lot of money that you can only purchase a replacement computer module, not any of the components on the PCB. That leads to a question of granularity – how deep does the right to repair extend in the subassembly and component change?

      Don’t get me wrong. I am driven to repair things, and I like to be able to access schematics and purchase replacement parts. But laws have consequences, sometimes unfortunate and unintended consequences. Lawmakers should follow the medical mantra of “do no harm” in the aggregate sense. And they should also ensure that there is an actual problem before attempting to legislate a solution.

      1. Yes, modern devices are complicated. I’ve repaired a couple of phone and I don’t really want to do it again. The problem is availability of information and components for all devices, not just the sealed iOS devices.

        I fix my truck when I can. If it were an Apple truck, there would be no Haynes manual, let alone any official repair information. I couldn’t buy a new oxygen sensor or set of plug wires at AutoZone. I would need to book an appointment at the Apple Auto Service Center and pay whatever they asked if I wanted to keep using my truck.

        This assumes my truck has not been classified as Vintage by Apple. In that case I would have no option but to buy a different truck.

        That benefits nobody but Apple. Arguments that 3rd party repairs create a hazard are ridiculous. A botched battery repair will make its presence known almost immediately, probably with a large cloud of smoke and destruction of the device. If Apple would make official parts available, there would be no reason to install a dodgy Chinese knockoff battery. Being able to install a new bluetooth module or hard drive in a laptop presents no danger whatsoever.

        If lawmakers should “do no harm” then Apple should be required to do so as well. Right now they’re harming themselves as well as their customers. Their products are a poor value for the money spent.

  6. MDN Take: “It’s bad enough that there are some Samsung phones in steerage. We try not to think about that when flying.”

    Steerage? Really? Are we back on the Titanic? Are the unwashed masses back in “non-premium” class the same as the people who got locked below decks while the Titanic was sinking?

    I hope that you realize that many people back in coach class own iPhones and iPads and MBPs and such. I hope that you realize that most people are economically compelled to fly in coach. And, if MDN editors can afford to fly first-class then, perhaps, you could deign to eliminate at least a few of the more annoying advertisements on your website? After all, if MDN editors can afford to fly coach and sneer at the rest of us, then you might just be a little too well compensated for aggregating Apple-related articles from other sources and adding snarky comments.

    I do not look down at people who use Samsung products. That is their choice, and it is Apple’s job to make iOS so compelling that most people recognize its superiority. I do not choose to use Samsung, Google, or Amazon electronic products, but I will not stereotype those who do.

    Your elitist comments simply provide fuel for the Apple haters who love to call us brainwashed fanboys who will buy any product that Apple sells. You do not convert people to your viewpoint by repeatedly telling them how stupid they are and how they wasted their money on Android products. I have converted (I prefer “transitioned,” because “converted” has religious connotations) a number of people to the Mac over the years simply by letting them see how much I enjoyed the Mac ecosystem and letting them find out for themselves. If you push people and they run into any difficulties, then you might have poisoned them against Apple for the long term.

    Anyway, back to the main topic – please stop sounding like overprivileged, arrogant billionaires. Most people hate that.

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