Apple And Government Officials Rally Behind Federal Right To Repair Law


In a significant development, Apple and government officials demonstrated their support for a federal right to repair law during a virtual meeting convened by the Biden White House. This meeting follows California Governor Gavin Newsom signing SB 244 into law, which mandates easier access to repair manuals for consumer electronics and appliances.

Key Takeaway

Apple and government officials have lent their support to a federal right to repair law, marking a shift in Apple’s repair policies and potentially leading to standardized regulations across the country.

Apple’s Shift in Stance

Apple, known for its historically restrictive repair policies, has expressed its support for the California legislation, marking a change in the company’s position. As a result, Apple participated in the virtual meeting, along with representatives from the automotive and farm equipment sectors. Although SB 244 primarily covers consumer electronics and appliances (excluding game consoles), it does not include provisions for farm and automotive equipment.

Varied State Laws and the Need for Federal Standardization

Several states have implemented their own right to repair laws, but the scope and coverage vary. For example, a Massachusetts ballot initiative from three years ago included cars, while Minnesota’s law passed in May made an exception for farming equipment. Colorado’s version exclusively focuses on farm equipment and electric wheelchairs, and New York’s version was subject to several carve-outs before reaching Governor Kathy Hochul’s desk. The push for a federal level law aims to standardize these inconsistencies.

Promoting Consumer Protection Ecosystem

In support of a federal right to repair law, Tom Perez, Director of the National Economic Council, emphasized the importance of building a consumer protection ecosystem. He highlighted the need for a combination of federal, state, and local actions to create a comprehensive approach to consumer protection.

Addressing Security Concerns

Manufacturers have raised concerns about the security risks associated with allowing consumers to repair their own devices. However, FTC Chair Lina Khan stated that the FTC has found limited evidence to support these claims. The FTC is committed to using its enforcement and policy tools to advocate for the right to repair.

Apple’s Perspective

Brian Naumann, Apple’s Vice President of Service and Operations Management, emphasized the importance of data and security protections while expressing the company’s support for federal legislation. Apple believes that a uniform federal repair law should prioritize privacy, data security, transparency for consumers regarding repair parts, and prospective application to allow manufacturers to focus on building products in compliance with the proposed law. Apple also stressed the need for more durable devices to promote product longevity.

Bipartisan Support and Benefits

The right to repair cause has garnered rare bipartisan support from both state and national politicians. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison highlighted the economic and environmental benefits of right to repair legislation, including job creation and waste reduction through device and equipment reuse.

The convergence of support from Apple and government officials, along with increasing bipartisan backing, suggests a positive momentum towards the establishment of a federal right to repair law. Such legislation would not only benefit consumers but also create a unified approach across the United States.

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