Right to Repair: Apple Tells Lawmakers That People May Hurt Themselves

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Apple has long been known to be against the proposed “right to repair” legislation, arguing that it would eventually hurt consumer interest. Apple has reportedly argued against the proposed legislation again, telling lawmakers that consumers could hurt themselves while attempting to repair their own device.

Apple’s concern about the “right to repair” legislation

According to Motherboard, an Apple representative and a lobbyist for ComTIA, a trade organization representing major tech companies, have been meeting with legislators in California over the past few weeks.

These meetings are aimed at convincing legislators to kill the proposed “right to repair” legislation. Motherboard said the two representatives also met with Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee members. The committee recently met to talk about the “right to repair” bill.

Apple reportedly told lawmakers and the committee members that the proposed bill is not in the interest of the consumer. The representatives claim customers could injure themselves by accidentally puncturing the device’s battery while attempting to repair it. The representatives even reportedly brought an iPhone to the meeting to show the internal components and how users could hurt themselves if those components are improperly disassembled.

Apple executive Lisa Jackson made a similar argument publicly in 2017 at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. At the time, Jackson said the iPhone was “too complex” to be repaired by normal people.

However, consumer rights groups do not agree with Apple’s excuse. Nathan Proctor, director of the consumer rights group US PIRG’s “right to repair” campaign, told Motherboard that suggesting “there are safety and security concerns with spare parts and manuals is just patently absurd.”

“We know that all across the country, millions of people are doing this for themselves. Millions more are taking devices to independent repair technicians,” Proctor said.

Efforts to thwart the “right to repair” bill

Reports about Apple’s in-person meetings with California lawmakers come weeks after CompTIA and several other trade organizations, including CTIA and the Entertainment Software Association sent a letter to members of the California State Assembly’s Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee in opposition of the legislation. The letter, which was obtained by Motherboard, states that such legislation would make it possible for hackers to “easily circumvent security protections, harming not only the product owner but also everyone who shares their network.”

CTIA represents companies such as Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. The Entertainment Software Association represents console makers, including Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.

Apple has long been lobbying against the proposed “right to repair” legislation in several states. If this legislation goes into effect, tech companies like Apple will have make repair information, repair parts and tools available to the public.

Additionally, not many are sure about whether or not customers will be able to repair their own iPhones. Apple devices often receive low repair scores from iFixit because they are hard to repair due to use of adhesives and small, proprietary components.

Arguments in favor of the “right to repair” legislation

In recent years, several states have developed legislation to make it easy for consumers to repair their broken electronics. Those in favor also argue that the legislation would benefit the environment by ensuring that devices last longer, thus reducing electronic waste.

Another argument in favor is that such legislation would help millions of small, independent repair companies. Many of these repair companies are currently forced to operate in a grey area because they have to purchase the iPhone components illegally from third parties. Although Apple has an “Authorized Service Provider Program,” it limits the types of repairs these companies can carry out. They also must pay Apple to join the program.

“The Right to Repair will provide consumers with the freedom to have their electronic products and appliances fixed by a repair shop or service provider of their choice, creating a competitive market that will be cheaper for consumers and reduce the number of devices thrown in the trash,” Stockton, Calif. Democrat Susan Talamantes Eggman said in a statement.

However, tech giants continue to oppose such efforts. Tech companies have enforced rigid rules to keep consumers from fiddling with hardware or software.

Apple may be lobbying against the legislation, but it seems it is aware that it will eventually become law. Last year, a leaked Apple presentation detailed the company’s plan to allow third-party repairers to access its diagnostic apps and components, according to Motherboard.

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