A lobbyist working for Apple, Google, Samsung, and other tech companies succeeded in diluting the impact of a Right to Repair law. Tech trade group TechNet gave suggested wording to NY Governor Kathy Hochul, who reportedly inserted that language verbatim.
The new wording places limits on the spare parts that tech giants have to make available to customers and independent repair shops …
Right to Repair movement
Apple had for many years fought against the Right to Repair movement, which called on tech companies to allow both customers and independent shops to carry out repairs to their products.
Apple restricted the supply of spare parts and repair manuals to its Authorized Resellers, which made it difficult for others to repair iPhones, Macs, and other Apple products. The company also made certain repairs impossible without proprietary Apple tools, with a number of gotchas for those who succeeded in DIY hardware swaps.
As the movement gained momentum, Apple both directly and indirectly lobbied against proposed laws, claiming that DIY repairs could prove dangerous to customers.
The legislative and PR pressure, however, kept increasing:
Apple finally launched a Self Service Repair Program in April of last year. This belatedly provided access to spare parts and manuals, together with rental of the tools needed to carry out repairs.
Lobbyist working for Apple and others rewrote law
In June of last year, New York became the first state to pass its own Right to Repair law. However, a new report reveals that part of the wording of this law – inserted at the last minute – was actually written by a lobbyist group backed by Apple and other tech giants.
Arstechnica noted that other restrictions to the law were added, one of them being the exclusion of products used exclusively used by businesses and the government.
When New York became the first state to pass a heavily modified right-to-repair bill late last year, it was apparent that lobbyists had succeeded in last-minute changes to the law’s specifics. A new report from the online magazine Grist details the ways in which Gov. Kathy Hochul made changes identical to those proposed by a tech trade association.
In a report co-published with nonprofit newsroom The Markup, Maddie Stone writes that documents surrounding the drafting and debate over the bill show that many of the changes signed by Hochul were the same as those proposed by TechNet, which represents Apple, Google, Samsung, and other technology companies.
Of particular relevance to Apple products, one of the changes meant that companies were free to offer “assemblies” of parts, rather than separate components. This could, for example, mean that Apple only has to offer fully-populated motherboards for sale, rather than access to individual components like SSDs. The effect would be to make some repairs uneconomic, as well as to block DIY upgrades.