California will be the 18th state to propose a "Right to Repair" bill for electronics. It would require hardware manufacturers to make repair information, alongside equipment and service parts, available to product owners and independent repair shops. California assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman detailed the legislation that aims to give more users control over their gadgets. Instead of paying a high price to a manufacturer to fix an electronic, Eggman says some people are forced to prematurely upgrade when they should have other repair options. "The Right to Repair Act will provide consumers with the freedom to have their electronic products and appliances fixed by a repair shop or service provider of their choice, a practice that was taken for granted a generation ago but is now becoming increasingly rare in a world of planned obsolescence," Eggman said in a statement.
My co-worker, Tracey, held her iPhone like a baby bird with a bent wing. I stared at the dark screen. The device was still on, but stuck between the worlds of being living technology, and a busted iPhone. She explained that while making a phone call shortly after having third-party iPhone screen repair company iCracked replace her shattered iPhone 6 screen, the device made a popping sound, and got really hot in one corner. Then, her screen cracked, and burnt her ear.
Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. The people have spoken, and they want their phones to last. And across the nation, elected officials are proposing a type of legislation that would give consumers more power to fix their devices as they age or are damaged. Over the past two years, these "right to repair" bills have gained popularity. This week, California joined the list, bringing the number of states with proposed legislation to 18.
Third-party repair stores are a common option if you drop or break your smartphone, but Apple is reportedly not a fan of these alternative repair options. Apple is one of several high-profile companies that have been lobbying against a New York state bill that would make it easier to independent stores and users to repair devices. According to Motherboard, the Fair Repair Act would have companies sell replacement parts and tools to everyone, bans software locks that would limit repairs and, in some cases, have companies provide repair guides publicly. However, Apple and other companies have come out aggressively against the proposed legislation. Along with Apple, other companies who have lobbied against the Fair Repair Act include Toyota, Caterpillar and Verizon.
Apple is planning to oppose a "Right to Repair" legislation introduced last month in the Nebraska legislature, Motherboard reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed source within the legislature. The bill for the Fair Repair Act is aimed at ending the manufacturers' aftermarket monopoly, wherein only authorized service providers are allowed to carry out repairs. However, the right to repair movement, which has also gained cachet in the states of Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, Kansas, Wyoming, Illinois and Tennessee -- has faced vehement opposition not just from Apple, but also from tractor manufacturer John Deere. The company argued in 2015 that allowing people to tinker with their software -- even if it's for the purpose of repair -- would "make it possible for pirates, third-party software developers, and less innovative competitors to free-ride off the creativity, unique expression and ingenuity of vehicle software designed by leading vehicle manufacturers." When the Nebraska bill is tabled for a hearing on March 9, Apple -- which has successfully lobbied against similar bills in other states -- is expected to argue, among other things, that allowing customers or independent mechanics to repair their own phones could cause the devices' lithium-ion batteries to catch fire.