In the ongoing battle for right to repair, Apple is again at the center of controversy. While the tech giant publicly supported a right-to-repair bill in California, recent reports reveal that they lobbied against a similar bill in Oregon that aims to ban the practice of parts pairing. This opposition raises concerns about Apple’s control over the repair process and its commitment to consumer choice in the repair market.

The bill in question, Senate Bill 1596 (SB 1596), puts forth certain requirements for companies to provide documentation, tools, and parts to both customers and independent repair shops. However, unlike the California bill, SB 1596 specifically targets parts pairing, a practice employed by companies like Apple to restrict customers from using aftermarket parts for repairs. The bill outlines three key prohibitions for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) regarding parts pairing:

(A) Prevent or inhibit an independent repair provider or owner from installing or enabling the function of a replacement part or component that the OEM has not approved.
(B) Reduce the functionality or performance of consumer electronic equipment.
(C) Cause consumer electronic equipment to display unnecessary or misleading alerts or warnings about unidentified parts, if these alerts or warnings cannot be dismissed.

Apple’s senior manager for the secure design team, John Perry, testified during a hearing about the bill and defended Apple’s use of parts pairing. According to Perry, parts pairing is implemented to facilitate easier repairs while ensuring the security and privacy of the device and its data. He argued that the bill’s prohibition on parts pairing would compromise the security, safety, and privacy of Oregonians by forcing OEMs to allow the use of parts of unknown origin in consumer devices.

Additionally, Apple’s System Configuration tool requires users to “pair” replacement parts such as batteries and screens to their devices. If a non-verified part is installed, users may receive notifications labeling the part as non-genuine, and features like Face ID may cease to function. Apple’s increased use of parts pairing across its product lineup has been well-documented, with an article on iFixit highlighting the growth of parts pairing in iPhones over the years.

Despite these concerns, Perry maintained that consumers should have the right to choose their repair parts, as long as the device transparently reflects the repair history and the use of the part does not pose any risks to safety, security, or privacy.

Apple’s opposition to the parts pairing bill in Oregon reflects a longstanding resistance to the right to repair movement. The company has faced criticism for its repair policies and the lack of accessibility to genuine parts, tools, and documentation for repairs. In an attempt to address some of these concerns, Apple launched a new initiative in October of last year, promising to make these resources available to customers. Additionally, they introduced the Self Service Repair program, which allows users to repair a range of iPhones and Macs on their own.

The fight for right to repair continues, with Apple’s opposition to the parts pairing bill in Oregon drawing attention to the company’s stance on repair accessibility. While Apple claims that parts pairing is necessary for security purposes, critics argue that it limits consumer choice and obstructs the ability of independent repair shops to compete. As the debate rages on, the ultimate goal should be to strike a balance between ensuring device security and privacy while empowering consumers to exercise their right to repair without unnecessary restrictions.

Tech

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