Apple Tells Lawmaker that Right to Repair iPhones Will Turn Nebraska Into a ‘Mecca’ for Hackers
Apple said we would be the only state that would pass this, and that we would become the mecca for bad actors,” Brasch, who is sponsoring the bill, told me in a phone call. “They said that doing this would make it very easy for hackers to relocate to Nebraska.
“The story they’re telling is that we need to be afraid of technology. You don’t have to be afraid of technology—you have to be afraid of the people who are trying to prevent you from knowing the things they know. Are these companies in it for the greater good, or the greater dollar?”
Following along as this unfolds! So far Nebraska is joined by Massachusetts, New York, Kansas, Minnesota, Tennessee, Wyoming, and Illinois in introducing these particular Fair Repair bills.
This particular argument from Apple against fair repair (or right to repair) laws immediately brings to mind Cory Doctorow’s first law –
Anytime someone puts a lock on something that belongs to you and won’t give you the key, that lock isn’t there for your benefit
Moreover, characterizing the ability to interact with pervasive technologies as dangerous really only serves to
- Chase the technically competent deeper in to the shadows and farther and away from generally accepted pursuits like, say, skilled manufacturing jobs, and
- Drive communities and ultimately nations farther away from the knowledge base required to participate and contribute in the digital age.
Apple may want to avoid democratizing their corner of the repair economy so they can continue to charge a premium for repair services, but they will also want to continue steering as many of these devices as possible in to their meticulous and lucrative recycling (read: smelting) operation.
Also interesting is Section 3 of Nebraska’s bill, which appears to be aimed squarely at lockouts of the Error 53 variety –
Original equipment manufacturer equipment sold or used in this state for the purpose of providing security-related functions may not exclude diagnostic, service, and repair documentation necessary to reset a security-related electronic function from information provided to an owner or independent repair provider. If excluded under the Fair Repair Act, the documentation necessary to reset an immobilizer system or security-related electronic module shall be obtained by an owner or independent repair provider through the appropriate secure data release systems.
The language is very similar across all eight bills and for the most part varies only in the degree to which manufacturers and authorized repair providers are protected from changes to their existing business models.
Depending on what happens at the state level, there may end up being a similar result to that of “right to repair” laws for automobiles, which is to say companies might adopt new compliance policies simply to avoid dealing with the specific regulations from each state that passes laws of that nature.
Also noteworthy are the potential implications of proprietary spare parts and select maintenance tools becoming available for sale. As an optimist, it seems there are many – if not all – of ol’ Peter Drucker’s 7 Sources of Innovative Opportunity at play here.
Pictured above, when we “upgraded” our iPhone, Apple-style 🙂