Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Vice: Apple to Fight Right to Repair Legislation in Nebraska

Jason Koebler, Vice:

The legislation would require Apple and other electronics manufacturers to sell repair parts to consumers and independent repair shops, and would require manufacturers to make diagnostic and service manuals available to the public.

[…]

According to the source, an Apple representative, staffer, or lobbyist will testify against the bill at a hearing in Lincoln on March 9. AT&T will also argue against the bill, the source said. The source told me that at least one of the companies plans to say that consumers who repair their own phones could cause lithium batteries to catch fire. Motherboard is protecting the identity of the source because they are not authorized to speak to the press.

[…]

The idea that it’s “unsafe” to repair your own devices is one that manufacturers have been promoting for years. Last year, industry lobbyists told lawmakers in Minnesota that broken glass could cut the fingers of consumers who try to repair their screens, according to Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of Repair.org. Byrne said she will also testify at the Nebraska hearing and “plans to bring band aids.”

I get that Apple, IBM, John Deere, and others would all prefer that this legislation doesn’t pass because it will impact their revenue. As much as I like the idea of this bill, I expect most tech companies to lobby against it. But their arguments are, so far, terrible. Lithium ion batteries and broken glass are dangerous, sure, but give people some credit — it’s not that hard to swap a battery a screen. If I were a legislator, I wouldn’t be convinced by their arguments.

Update: Koebler in a newer article:

But the prospect of a Cupertino-based megacorporation losing business to local repair shops isn’t a very sympathetic argument at the Nebraska statehouse. And so Apple has tried a slew of other tactics, according to state Sen. Lydia Brasch, who was recently visited by Steve Kester, an Apple state government affairs specialist.

“Apple said we would be the only state that would pass this, and that we would become the mecca for bad actors,” Brasch, who is sponsoring the bill, told me in a phone call. “They said that doing this would make it very easy for hackers to relocate to Nebraska.”

These arguments are still unconvincing, and getting worse.

I don’t get why Apple apparently isn’t making an argument for innovation. For example, they could point to the Touch ID sensor’s pairing system and explain that, while it sacrifices repairability of the home button, it makes the system more secure. I’m not sure if a Nebraskan lawmaker would be convinced by this, but it’s far less bullshitty than the arguments Koebler has been reporting.