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Apple must explain opposition to "right to repair"

by on13 March 2018


Jobs' Mob called out in court

A California state lawmaker wants Apple to explain why it has opposed and lobbied against legislation that would make it easier for its users to repair their iPhones and other expensive toys.

According to Motherboard,  California Assembly member Susan Talamantes-Eggman announced that she plans to introduce right to repair legislation in the state, which would require companies to sell replacement parts and repair tools, make repair guides available to the public, and would require companies to make diagnostic software available to independent shops.

Apple has lobbied against a right to repair legislation in New York, and my previous reporting has shown that Apple has privately asked lawmakers to kill legislation in places like Nebraska.

Job's Mob has mostly used its membership in trade organisations such as CompTIA and the Consumer Technology Association to publicly oppose the bill. But California is Apple's home state, and Talamantes-Eggman says she expects the company to show up to hearings about the law.

“Apple is a very important company in the state of California, and one I have a huge amount of respect for. But the onus is on them to explain why we can’t repair our things and what damage or danger it causes them.”

Talamantes-Eggman said that the bill she plans to introduce would apply to both consumer electronics as well as agricultural equipment such as tractors.

The electronics industry has decided to go with an “authorised repair” model in which companies pay the original device manufacturer to become authorised to fix devices.

Under Apple’s model repair shops are only allowed to attempt certain necessary repairs; for example, if an iPad’s backlight blows out, authorised repair shops are required by Apple to mail the device back to the company. However, hundreds of independent repair shops fix these devices without Apple authorisation and often for very much cheaper.

Apple claims it is protecting its intellectual property,  protecting consumers’ safety, and defending device security, though Talamantes-Eggman said no company has put forward a coherent reason why these bills would result in less secure devices or the divulgence of trade secrets.

“It’s their business model—they sell you something, and they fix it. It’s not a trademark or trade secret issue. I’ve grown increasingly frustrated that I have to pay a lot of money for my phone and iPad and my wife’s iPad and then have to pay Apple to fix it. Do I own the phone, or does Apple own the phone?”  We would have thought that Talamantes-Eggman would have been better off buying from another company.

Talamantes-Eggman says she realises that Apple is politically influential in the state, but said that because she’s an assembly member from Stockton and not Silicon Valley, she has to represent people who are intent on starting small businesses rather than large companies.

 

Last modified on 13 March 2018
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