The Fight For Your Right To Repair
Right To Repair Gains Momentum
It’s official — Big Tech’s on the road to repair. Recently, Apple announced “Self-Service Repair,” a new initiative to provide individual consumers with official replacement parts to repair their Apple products. This news comes on the heels of Apple’s decision to begin selling certified Apple parts and tools to third-party iPhone repair stores in the US, Canada, and Europe last year.
It's good news, especially for right-to-repair advocates who have been fighting Apple's practices that force consumers to buy their official repair services or a new device rather than offering free alternative repair options. In March 2020, Apple agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging that it intentionally slowed down older iPhone models in order to encourage the purchase of newer models.
While Apple is finally taking a step by the right direction in protecting consumers’ rights to repair their own products, it’s worthy of note that the Self Service Repair is only available for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13- Apple’s newest models. Individuals with older phones will still be unable to repair any broken or faulty devices.
Bill C-272 and Canada’s Unanimous Vote for Repair Rights
In another step in the right direction for consumers’ right to repair, Canada is throwing everything it’s got at preventing companies from making it harder for the average person to repair their electronics. In June this year, Canada’s Parliament was presented with Bill C-272 (discussed in our introduction to the right to repair), a measure that targets technological protection measures (TPMs). Originally put in place to protect big companies’ intellectual property and copyright, TPMs are notorious for using complex technology and software to block access to equipment and the digital information needed to troubleshoot and repair faulty equipment.
In 2017, in the resolution of Nintendo of America, Inc. v. King et al., the Canadian Federal Court declared that attempting to illegally bypass these digital locks would result in significant damage fines. So, Canada’s unanimous vote in favor of Bill C-272 could be the country’s first step towards significant changes that firmly establish the individual’s ability to repair their products at home.
What This Means For The Auto Industry
The implications are huge for the auto repair industry. The automotive industry in the US got its first right-to-repair law with the passage of the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right-to-Repair Act in 2012. The act made it easier for car owners to be able to repair their vehicles at any repair shop they chose, as car manufacturers now had to make their equipment and diagnostic information readily available. This event led to a Memorandum of Understanding between the Auto Care Association, the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE), and vehicle manufacturers.
Last year, the act was amended to include telematics systems –a system that wirelessly collects data about a vehicle’s history and usage —but car manufacturers are fighting back. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation has filed a lawsuit against the state of Massachusetts, alleging that the right-to-repair law is "unenforceable and unconstitutional." The fight for the right to repair in the auto industry can appear to be slow and frequently interrupted by setbacks, with auto manufacturers and independent repair shops sometimes at odds. It should benefit from the impetus given to the broader right-to-repair movement by Apple’s latest initiative.
Regardless, consumers deserve the right to affordable auto repair, and right-to-repair advocates will continue fighting to ensure that vehicle owners retain freedom of choice over the repair of their vehicles as the automotive industry evolves in technological sophistication. One hopes that recent developments deliver an impetus to the broader right-to-repair movement and grow awareness of its importance for all industries among consumers.
We continue to bring auto enthusiasts valuable information in our regularly updated automotive articles.
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The following are the pros and cons of the right-to-repair
Empowerment of consumers
Intellectual property concerns
Quality and safety concerns
Reduced profit for manufacturers
Limited availability of auto parts