Apple Lobbying Against New Right-to-Repair Bill in Oregon

Apple, known for its stand on right-to-repair bills, has reportedly been lobbying against a proposed bill in Oregon that aims to ban the practice of parts pairing. This move comes after the tech giant supported a similar bill in California. Testimonies during a hearing about the bill shed light on Apple’s reluctance to relinquish control over the repair process, claiming that parts pairing ensures device security. The bill, known as SB 1596, not only requires companies to provide necessary documentation, tools, and parts for repairs but also targets parts pairing that restricts customers from using aftermarket parts. John Perry, Apple’s senior manager for the secure design team, argued that the bill would compromise the security, safety, and privacy of Oregonians.

Parts pairing refers to the practice of requiring users to “pair” replacement parts like batteries and screens with their devices using the manufacturer’s proprietary tools. In Apple’s case, if a part is not verified as genuine, customers receive notifications stating that the part installed is not authentic, and certain features like Face ID may stop functioning. This process, also adopted by other manufacturers, has been expanding across various electronic devices. An article by iFixit demonstrates how the percentage of paired parts in iPhones has increased over the years.

The Right-to-Repair Bill in Oregon

The proposed right-to-repair bill in Oregon, SB 1596, demands that companies provide customers and independent repair shops with the necessary documentation, tools, and parts to fix broken products. Additionally, it specifically addresses parts pairing, imposing restrictions on manufacturers like Apple. The bill prohibits manufacturers from using parts pairing to prevent or inhibit independent repair providers or owners from using aftermarket parts, reduce device functionality or performance, or display unnecessary or misleading warnings about unidentified parts. Its objective is to give consumers greater freedom in choosing repair options, while ensuring their safety, security, and privacy.

Contrary to its support for a right-to-repair bill in California, Apple has been lobbying against the proposed bill in Oregon. According to testimony from Tarah Wheeler, a cybersecurity expert, Apple does not want to forfeit control over the repair process. Apple’s senior manager for the secure design team, John Perry, argued that parts pairing enhances device security and that the bill would force manufacturers to allow the use of parts of unknown origin, posing risks to consumer safety, security, and privacy.

After years of opposing right-to-repair legislation, Apple announced a new initiative in October to provide customers with access to parts, tools, and repair documentation. The company has also launched a Self Service Repair program, allowing customers to repair a range of iPhones and Macs on their own. However, critics argue that these efforts fall short as Apple still maintains control over the repair process through practices like parts pairing.

The Debate on Right-to-Repair

The right-to-repair movement argues that consumers should have the right to repair their own devices, as it promotes sustainability, saves money, and fosters competition in the repair market. Proponents argue that manufacturers like Apple should not restrict repairs to authorized service providers, who often charge high prices, and should provide customers with affordable repair options. Additionally, they claim that the right-to-repair promotes innovation by enabling independent repair shops to develop new solutions and service offerings.

The Impact on Consumers

If the right-to-repair bill in Oregon passes, it could significantly impact consumers by expanding their repair options beyond authorized service providers. It would provide access to affordable repairs, reduce electronic waste, and create a competitive repair market, ultimately benefiting the consumer. However, opponents, like Apple, argue that such legislation may compromise device security and result in the use of inferior or unsafe replacement parts.

The Future of Right-to-Repair

The fight for the right-to-repair is gaining momentum globally. Several other states and countries are considering similar legislation to promote repairability and consumer choice. As technology continues to advance, the push for right-to-repair laws becomes increasingly important to ensure a balance between manufacturer control and consumer rights.

Apple’s stance on the right-to-repair movement has been inconsistent, as the company supported a bill in California but lobbied against a similar bill in Oregon. The debate revolves around parts pairing, a practice utilized by Apple and other manufacturers, which restricts users from using aftermarket parts. While proponents argue that right-to-repair legislation promotes consumer rights and sustainability, opponents, like Apple, claim that it compromises device security. As the movement continues to gain traction, it remains to be seen how the right-to-repair will evolve and shape the future of consumer electronics repair.

Tech

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