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Biden Administration Gets Apple to Open up iPhones to Right to Repair

This summer, President Joe Biden signed a broad executive order on competition that included a provision pushing companies to allow consumers to fix their own equipment. This “right to repair” clause doesn’t go far enough to support real freedom for consumers (though it’s better than the pro-corporate opposition we get from South Dakota Republicans and the inaction we got from their Dear Leader). But President Biden’s order has gotten Apple to reverse its opposition to letting consumers make their own repairs to their property:

In a sharp turnaround, the US tech firm announced on Wednesday that users will be able to access genuine Apple parts and tools for consumer repairs on the two newest iPhone models and eventually some Mac computers.

The shift is a reflection of President Joe Biden embracing the “right to repair” movement – which affects everything from smartphones to cars and tractors.

…Apple said it will launch an online store for self-service repairs early next year, which will have more than 200 individual parts and tools for making the most common repairs on the iPhone 12 or iPhone 13.

Do-it-yourself fixes to screens, batteries and displays will be the initial focus – despite Apple’s previous resistance due to security and safety concerns, such as faulty battery replacements that can damage a device [“Apple Allows Self-Repairs to Some iPhones and Macs After Pressure from Biden Administration and Regulators,” Sky News, 2021.11.18].

The Securities and Exchange Commission also helped motivate Apple’s change of heart by yanking an anti-consumer rule from the recent dark times:

Apple’s decision was announced on the same day as a key deadline related to a right-to-repair resolution filed by activist Appleshareholders back in September, a connection first reported by The Verge.

Green Century — the sustainability-focused mutual fund that led that effort — has now rescinded its resolution, which would have pushed Apple to study the environmental impact of its strict repair policies.

“We felt it was a big enough step forward,” Annalisa Tarizzo, a shareholder advocate at Green Century, told Recode. “We hope to continue engaging companies that we invest in on this topic because we think it is really important and there are real risks to investors related to this issue.”

New guidance from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may have influenced Apple’s timing, Tarizzo added. About two weeks ago, the agency rescinded a Trump-era rule that had made it easier for companies to dismiss socially conscious shareholder resolutions. Wednesday was also Green Century’s deadline to defend its proposal to the SEC, which Apple had requested the agency to block [Rebecca Heilwell, “Apple Will Finally Let You Fix Your Own Devices—Sort Of,” Vox: Recode, 2021.11.17].

Only a small fraction of us are likely to deploy our own sharp objects against the most costly piece of equipment we regularly carry on our persons. But the Right to Repair is a basic property right. Apple’s recognition of that right came not because Kristi Noem rides horseys for the camera, but because President Joe Biden gets things done.

3 Comments

  1. jerry 2021-11-18

    Dirty Johnson in the house certainly would not support this kind of right to work (on your own stuff). In fact, the only thing that Dirty Johnson supports is racism and the hatred of women (except Marina Butina, the Red Sparrow). Proof is in his vote to censure one of his own nuts, Gosar.

    “WASHINGTON | The House voted to censure Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona for posting an animated video that depicted him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a sword, an extraordinary rebuke that highlighted the political strains testing Washington and the country.” Rapid City Journal 11.18.2021

    Let’s Go Biden! Infrastructure, work on your own stuff, and soon, childcare and more help for the American people. Dirty, brush your teeth and get your smile on for the projects happening….no thanks to you.

  2. larry kurtz 2021-11-18

    This seems like permission for me to really mess up my Mac and my iPhone. Anybody else?

  3. Wade Brandis 2021-11-19

    Now if Apple can do the same thing with their Mac lineup…

    In the past, you used to be able to easily service your Mac if a part broke down or needed an upgrade. Everything was on a tray under the old CRT display and it was easily removable. But ever since the late 90s, Apple has been sealing off the insides of Macs from user repair or upgrades. Gone are the upgradable RAM slots in MacBooks, and the last iMac with a door to access the RAM sticks, the 27” Intel model, will soon get replaced by their new Apple Silicon model which integrates the RAM in the processor chip. And before the 2012 refresh, the iMac front glass was held on by magnets. With the right tools and care, user upgrades of pre-2012 iMacs and MacBooks were easy and relatively simple. You can do repair work on a post-2012 iMac, but it’s much harder to do as the display is glued on and if you’re not careful removing it, you can crack the glass.

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