Apple, once a a constant thorn in the side of frustrated repair technicians across the country now says it supports federal Right to Repair legislation. It is Darth Vader of the “Right to Repair” movement continues its surprising redemption arc.
Apple Vice President Brian S. Naumann made the shocking announcement during an online Right to Repair event hosted by the Biden administration on Tuesday afternoon. Naumann, who recently reiterated his support for California’s newly passed Right to Repair lawsaid both consumers and businesses would benefit from clear federal legislation that makes it easier for consumers to repair products while ensuring device safety.
“Apple supports a unified federal law that balances repairability with product integrity, data security, usability and physical security,” Naumann said.
The legislature has introduced several federal right-to-repair laws In recent years, we have strived to improve the repairability of consumer electronics as well as automotive and agricultural machinery. At least four states have enacted their own local laws. The Biden White House and the Federal Trade Commission have been vocal supported these efforts at both the state and federal levels.
But Apple isn’t sitting idle while Congress deliberates. Going forward, Naumann said, Apple will comply with California’s nation-leading right-to-repair legislation for Apple customers nationwide, a move that could make it easier for millions of Apple customers to repair their iPhones, MacBooks and other devices.
Apple also has some ideas about what a federal right-to-repair law should look like. In a live broadcast to an audience of reporters, Naumann said a federal law should protect consumer privacy and device security features, as well as ensure transparency about the types of parts used in a repair. If implemented correctly Naumann says a federal law could save consumers money, reduce e-waste from discarded devices and “reduce the confusion caused by the potentially confusing government approach.”
Nevertheless, Apple made it clear that it would prefer to avoid its customers having repairs carried out at the first palace. During the event, Naumann said the company’s ultimate goal is to make products last through improved durability and ongoing support for devices.
“The best repair is the repair that is not necessary,” Naumann added.
Apple’s right to fix evolution
It’s all a major shift in approach from Apple, which just a few years ago campaigned to repeal burgeoning right-to-repair legislation. Kyle Wiens, a big supporter of right-to-repair laws and CEO of iFixit, once called the company “the biggest opponent” to legislative efforts across the country. That started to change in 2021 when Apple announced the launch Accommodating DIY repairs by selling parts and tools to customers through its self-service repair program. The company did so and soon began delivering repair technicians comically large repair toolboxes.
But oversized gift boxes and responsible legislation are two different things.
At the beginning of the year, Apple shocked many shouts his support for the “Right to Repair Act” that has now been passed in California, which many advocates consider to be the strictest consumer electronics repair bill in the country. Starting in July 2024, electronics manufacturers selling devices in the state will be required by law to provide replacement parts, tools, documentation and software to consumers and independent repair shops. Advocates say it is the most comprehensive and consumer-friendly right-to-repair legislation passed to date. In some cases, the law requires manufacturers to provide equipment repair resources for up to seven years after sale. According to an August letter to California Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman, Apple said it supports the bill because it “includes requirements to protect the security of individual users as well as the intellectual property of product manufacturers.”
Apple strengthened its position on repairs even further today by loudly supporting a federal law that few device makers have previously been willing to do. So why now? In some ways, Apple’s seemingly new enlightenment on the right to repair isn’t all that surprising. As of October 23, New York, California and Minnesota have already passed strict right-to-repair laws aimed at Apple and other device makers. Approximately 45 other states have similarly considered some form of right-to-repair legislation. accordingly Repair.org. At least some of them will probably pass.
If even a handful of these proposed right-to-repair laws pass, Apple and other device makers could find themselves stuck in the same confusing politics that many social media companies have had to contend with with patchwork privacy laws. At a certain point, it simply makes more business sense to favor a clean, national framework. In other words, Apple probably knows which way the wind is blowing.