In-brief: Five states are considering “right to repair” legislation that would allow independent shops and consumers to service their own connected stuff. No surprise: Apple isn’t happy about it.
Motherboard has an article looking at the spate of “right to repair” laws that have popped up across the country targeting monopolies in the markets for aftermarket parts and repair of electronic devices including smart phones.
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As it stands, lawmakers in five states have introduced legislation establishing a state-wide “Right to Repair” electronics, requiring manufacturers to sell replacement parts to independent repair shops and consumers and make public diagnostic and service manuals, the website Motherboard reports.
Bills have been introduced in Nebraska, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Kansas. In Wyoming, a farm equipment repair bill establishes the same principles, but is limited to the servicing of tractors and other farm equipment.
From the article:
The bills are squarely aimed at the “authorized repair” model that creates aftermarket monopolies dominated by the manufacturers themselves. For example, Apple has never authorized an independent company to repair iPhones, even though hundreds of companies do so every day (its authorized repair program is only for Mac computers).
The new laws are modeled on Massachusetts’ 2012 right to repair law, which gave automobile owners and independent repair shops the right to access to “the same diagnostic and repair information … that the manufacturer makes available to its dealers and authorized repair facilities.”
However, the new laws would apply to a far wider population of devices, including new “Internet of Things” products populating homes and businesses.
The increasing role of software in running consumer electronics, durable goods and heavy equipment of all sorts has created the opportunity for manufacturers to lock in aftermarket servicing of the devices. The effects of this have been particularly felt in agriculture, where sophisticated, software driven farm equipment can only be serviced by authorized representatives from companies like John Deere. Though lucrative for the device maker, such arrangements have provoked the ire of farmers, who say they must often wait days for on site repair of small issues by authorized repairmen and women -often for problems that they could easily address themselves.
Needless to say, the new laws are prompting push-back from device makers and other players. Apple and AT&T are reported to be fighting a Nebraska law and lobbying lawmakers in the state with warnings about errant battery fires from improperly serviced devices, or of making their states “hacker Meccas” with loose repair and servicing laws.