Apple has made a somewhat dramatic shift in position to back California’s proposed right-to-repair bill. Under the law, the tech giant will have to provide instructions and parts for repairing products like iPads, iPhones and Macs.
Although Apple already has a repair program in place that provides tools for consumers to fix their devices at home, it has historically opposed laws of this nature. In fact, it opposed this very same law in California when it was first introduced back in 2018.
Apple Gives Blessing to Right-To-Repair in California
In a letter to California State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, seen by TechCrunch, Apple says that it's throwing its support behind the right-to-repair bill proposed by the Democrat politician.
The company believes in the right of consumers to have the ability to repair their devices without compromising their safety or privacy, the letter said.
However, CNBC reports that there is one catch – Apple said it wouldn’t support the bill if it permitted repair shop workers to disable its antitheft security measures installed on many of its devices.
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What Is SB-244, and How Will It Help Consumers?
SB-244, which enacts the Right to Repair Act, requires manufacturers to “make available, on fair and reasonable terms, to product owners, service and repair facilities, and service dealers, the means, as described, to effect the diagnosis, maintenance, or repair of the product, as provided”.
Manufacturers of electronic appliances ranging from microwaves to mobile phones will have to make replacement guides and parts available for products that retail at over $100. This would include the majority of Apple’s products, such as iPads, Macs, and iPhones.
It will also require third-party repair shops that aren’t registered with the manufacturer to provide written notices to consumers informing them of that fact prior to working on their devices.
Apple’s Product Repair Stance Softens
Apple has certainly relaxed its position on consumers’ rights to repair their technology products in recent years, first announcing a self-service repair program in 2021 and opening it up to consumers in the US in 2022.
In the past, however, the company has fiercely opposed right-to-repair laws in various states across the US, making their support for SB 244 all the more surprising.
For instance, in 2017 the company put significant lobbying efforts into trying to kill New York’s proposed “Fair Repair Act”, which would have allowed third parties to access information that would show them how to repair products without paying manufacturers.
The company also joined forces with HP and Honeywell to lobby a Nevada statehouse law that would require manufacturers to provide device parts and instructions to third-party repair shops. Apple was reportedly concerned about the potential exposure of personal user data during repairs.
Apple has historically opposed such laws because of the AppleCare+ insurance program it offers to customers. Other concerns include the company losing its grip on quality assurances, as there would be no guarantee that the parts used to repair its products would be made to the same standards.
The backing of the California law, however, suggests a change of tack.