What the Right to Repair Legislation Means for iPhone Users
Updated on December 8, 2021 | by Alex Smith
Apple has made many waves in the last few years, and one of those waves is the right to repair legislation. What does this legislation mean for iPhone users?
Apple’s products have been notoriously difficult to repair. This means that if you are an iPhone user, you may be spending more money than necessary on iPhone repairs. This is because your device is not easily repaired at home (or by anyone else).
In this article, we will cover the topic of “right to repair” in greater detail. This is so that you can rest assured that you understand its entirety.
So whenever you’re ready to learn more about your repair rights, keep reading.
What is the Right to Repair Legislation?
The right to repair is legislation that would require manufacturers to make their devices repairable. This is so consumers could fix the device or find a professional who does not charge an arm and a leg.
If there were this type of law on the books when your iPhone got broken, you’d be able to walk into an authorized location-maybe even one at home-and get the problem fixed without paying $200-$300 (or more). Check out Bulldog Mobile Repair for an example of it done right.
If Apple had been required by law to design its products with easy access panels and user manuals included from new out-of-the-box, it could have prevented the massive problems that occur when your iPhone breaks.
Apple is fighting back against this legislation. They are claiming it would make its devices less secure and more likely to break. It would leave you with a broken phone or an expensive repair bill.
However, if Apple had designed their products in such a way as to allow them to be easily repaired at home for minor issues-and, not just major ones-then, there wouldn’t need to be any changes made.
People are having it now because they don’t want techies getting all up inside their iPhones (or anything else). Thus, end-users often can’t get the repair done.
What are the Policy Objectives?
For the right to repair legislation, there are several objectives. For instance, it is an environmental, economic, and social issue.
The objectives are:
Make Information Accessible
Information about repairs and technical aspects must be accessible/available to all. Without this information, the right to repair would be a hollow victory.
We want to ensure that repair data, such as manuals that can be found at manualsnet.com and parts lists are accessible for everyone. This is so they can fix their own devices if needed, its good to do it this way since you will be able to learn something for the future fixes. If you think you just cant do it then find someone who will do it right the first time.
With this information available, we’re more likely to maintain our right to repair with ease in an eco-friendly way.
Make Tools/Parts Available
The next objective of the same initiative is to ensure access to specialized parts. Access to tools is also necessary for repairs.
Without this, consumers cannot repair their devices and will be forced to spend more money on a new device. Not to mention, pay someone else who charges a ton of money for repairs.
Accessibility is the keyword here. If we were able to access parts, tools, books, manuals, etc. Then it would simply come down to whether you know or not.
Unlocking Made Easy
Next, the right to repair wants to ensure that the process of unlocking, modifying, and adapting the device is legal. Without this, consumers are unable to fix their devices and will be forced to buy new ones.
Unlocking, modifying, adapting a device is often legal in most countries. Usually, when the user does it for personal use-not just technically skilled people.
It should not be illegal for users to modify or adapt products they have purchased if they own them rightfully!
This also prevents any company from making modifications without our knowledge. Modifications that could make the product insecure somehow.
Finally, the legislation wants to make sure that device manufacturers build their products in a way that allows for repairs. It’s not uncommon for a company to design their device to avoid the simplicity of repair.
This is a major issue because the company is in charge of whatever happens to your device-whether it’s repairable or not.
However, one would solve the problem if companies were required by law to design their products with easy access panels. They could also provide user manuals included from new out-of-the-box.
iPhone Users, Benefits to You
The Right to Repair Legislation means a lot for iPhone users and other consumers who own devices. Especially if they are no longer accessible due to limited accessibility and lack of information when it comes to repairs.
It’s also important to note that Apple’s fight against the legislation can be viewed as a consumer protection measure. In this case, protecting consumers from themselves.
But in most cases, it just forces them into paying way more than they should for repairs or replacements. And they do so by telling their customers they are not allowed to fix what they own.
This means you may have paid $200-300 dollars (or more) unnecessarily when your iPhone was only worth $100. This was done without knowing how easy repairing it would be if there were laws on the devices today. Laws requiring manufacturers like Apple to design devices with ease of repair out of the box.
Companies need to understand that customer satisfaction isn’t about selling products. It’s about building a relationship with the customer.
The benefits of the right to repair for iPhone users are:
You can fix your own device without having to pay a ton of money or find someone else who charges you.
Unlocking, modifying, and adapting is legal when done by the user themselves for personal use.
The long-term effects will be more eco-friendly due to fewer people dumping their devices. Whereas, they would do so because they’re not accessible/available (costs) or have not been designed with ease of repair in mind.
How Is the Government Involved in This Legislation?
It’s no surprise that the government is beginning to catch on to this legislation. Not all agents of the government structure are involved, but many are quite enthusiastic about the possibility. For instance, the Federal Trade Commission, which is not an elected body but rather a regulatory agency that can enforce antitrust laws.
The FTC is on board with this legislation. This is because they believe it will protect consumers and promote competition.
For example, by providing warranties for products to compete against each other. This is something makers of devices have been resisting until now.
It also means companies won’t be able to lock out competitors from using their service or product through patent infringement. It will also expand markets by building better relationships with customers who can fix what they own without breaking the law.
Ultimately, Right To Repair Legislation benefits iPhone users and all American citizens alike. This is because it ensures consumer rights while also protecting our environment.
What About Other Countries?
The right to repair is currently presented as a North American (US) issue. However, there are other countries considering these policies.
For example, the European Union is contemplating legislation. The legislation would require PC manufacturers to make their hardware more easily repairable.
This might seem like a distant issue for many. Still, it’s one of the most important issues in the US.
Especially when you consider how much waste there could be where iPhones are concerned. If we don’t solve this problem soon with easy access and accessible user manuals included, the issue will grow.
However, one should also note that some countries have already passed similar regulations. This can be seen by Right To Repair laws in Norway or Taiwan before them.
These nations were able to do so because they had intellectual property protections on board. It made it possible for them to enforce the law without fear of being sued by corporations who profit from making it difficult to repair devices.
The US currently lacks similar intellectual property protection, and the worst part of all this is that companies are profiting off of locking out consumers from repairing their own products-something they have no business doing when you consider how many people could be saving money by fixing these devices themselves (especially with instructions being so easily accessible).
Is Right to Repair Even That Important?
This question arises from the fact that people have been able to repair their devices without issue. However, this does not apply to all people.
Although many can get repairs done on their own, some cannot afford to do so. This is especially true when it comes to complex repairs that require a lot of technical know-how.
This is the group’s right to repair legislation was designed for and will continue to serve. But only as long as companies don’t have an incentive in keeping people locked out from repairs.
Not to mention, non-authorized repairs often “void” the warranty of the device. This prevents people from seeking out warranty claims if it breaks because they did not have the device repaired by a certified technician.
Non-authorized repair also occurs when you consider how many people buy secondhand devices that may need repairs that are too expensive for them otherwise, negating their option to get the warranties on these electronics in the first place.
This law ensures consumers can keep using and repairing products without worrying about breaking laws or being sued for doing so. At the same time, companies aren’t able to arbitrarily lock people out of necessary technical information.
Is There a Case Against This Legislation?
With all of the positives about this legislation, surprisingly, there are plenty of opposing forces regarding this legislation. For example, several companies have already lobbied against this legislation, such as Apple.
Some of the reasons against this legislation are that it would make repairs unaffordable, create confusion in job titles and responsibilities for service technicians at authorized centers, etc.
However, many of these arguments have been debunked with evidence that shows a cheaper cost to own/repair devices (in some cases) and less confusion when you consider how other countries have passed right to repair laws without consequence or issue-and they presumably serve more customers than companies like Apple who only sells their products domestically.
With all this being considered, there is no reason not to pass the right to repair legislation that benefits everyone involved, from consumers themselves up through the environment.
Another argument against the right to repair is device security. Let’s say there is a device security vulnerability that needs to be fixed. This could cause problems for the consumer who doesn’t understand how to fix it themselves and, in turn, would need to get repairs done by someone else-thus voiding their warranty when they didn’t want this outcome in the first place.
However, this argument does not hold much weight because those “vulnerabilities” are patched as soon as possible, so consumers won’t have long-term issues with device security (unless they purposely avoid updates). Additionally, these patches can also help save costs from having a service technician come out just for one issue that one could easily solve.
Is there no case against the right to repair? It seems like companies only oppose legislation that benefits them more.
Biden Executive Order
Finally, let’s examine the executive order in regards to this topic. Yes, there is one, and it has already been signed. However, it might not be what you think.
The executive order is not a law that other people can enforce. Instead, it only applies to federal agencies and executive departments. For example, the Homeland Security, Justice Department, Commerce Department.
This order still does not give consumers any rights that they don’t already have. Essentially, this means nothing new because companies are still allowed to lockout customers. They can even void warranties when there’s no reason for them to do so.
They can do so before the right to repair legislation was proposed (and signed). This also relates to one of the arguments against the legislation: device security.
This executive order is directed towards the FTC. This is so that they establish rules for this broad topic. However, it’s doubtful that these rules will encompass all of the worries and concerns of consumers.
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