Tech giant Apple has officially dropped its opposition to so-called ‘right-to-repair’ laws in the US, paving the way for iPhone and iPad users worldwide to be able to fix their own devices.
Apple has made an abrupt about-face on the issue recently, and now claims to support an individuals right to repair devices they have legally purchased despite many years pushing the opposite.
Leanne Wiseman, associate professor at Griffiths University and chair of the Australian Repair Network, told The New Daily Apple devices are intentionally designed to be difficult to take apart.
“They are being designed in a way where it’s not easy to take apart, we know that batteries aren’t simple to remove, the screws are often unique and need an Apple screwdriver to remove, for example,” she said.
“Apple is realising that the regulators are recognising that this raises serious kinds of economic issues for people, but also around being able to have third parties access and repair these products.”
Apple’s traditional opposition to repair laws has been rooted in a desire to keep new device sales high, or at least to be able to charge customers whatever price they like for repairs.
It’s long been a problem in the automotive industry, where some vehicle manufacturers have been found to lock diagnostic and maintenance features behind proprietary software that can only be accessed by the manufacturer themselves.
Laws addressing the situation in the automotive world were introduced in Australia in 2021, under the Motor Vehicle Information Scheme (MVIS), which decreed that manufacturers must share this type of information with independent repairers.
A government inquiry into right-to-repair laws for technology was completed the same year, recommending changes to the laws, but as yet none of these changes have come into effect.
It’s hoped the change of heart from one of the world’s largest tech companies may prove influential in the space.
Constantly being forced to buy new electronic devices is not only extremely costly, but has a measurable environmental effect as well.
Pip Kiernan, chair of Clean Up Australia, has formed the Australian Repair Network (ARN), an advocacy group that will push for right-to-repair laws with “all levels of government, policy makers, industries, repairers and the community”.
The group will also liaise with universities and resource institutions on priority themes related to repair, durability and product life extension.
“If we are to get serious about reducing our waste to landfill and truly creating a circular economy, we must shift the dial on repair,” she says.
“At Clean Up Australia, we know it is critically important to highlight the value of repair and promote efforts to fix what we own.”
When was the last time you had to replace an electronic device? Should you be allowed to get it repaired yourself? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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