In a surprising reversal, Apple Computer – a longtime opponent of electronics right to repair laws – said it supports passage of a comprehensive right to repair law in California.
Apple endorsed SB 244, in a letter sent to Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, one of the bill’s main sponsors.
“Apple writes in support of SB 244, and urges members of the California legislature to pass the bill as currently drafted,” Apple wrote to Eggman, the sponsor of SB 244 according to 404 Media, which obtained a copy of the letter. “
In a statement issued to TechCrunch, Apple said it decided to support SB 244 because it “includes requirements that protect individual users’ safety and security, as well as product manufacturers’ intellectual property. We will continue to support the bill, so long as it continues to provide protections for customers and innovators,” the company said.
The statement of support is seen as giving a boost to SB 244’s chance of passage in the California legislature. After passing the California Senate with a vote of 38-0 in May, the bill has been awaiting assembly appropriation suspense file approval – a kind of limbo – before going to a full assembly vote.
“Apple supports California’s Right to Repair Act so all Californians have even greater access to repairs while also protecting their safety, security, and privacy,” the company says in a statement provided to TechCrunch. “We create our products to last and, if they ever need to be repaired, Apple customers have a growing range of safe, high-quality repair options.”
Nathan Proctor, head of the Right to Repair Campaign at US PIRG credited the persistence and dedication of Sen. Eggman and other lawmakers.
“Slowly but surely, we pushed ahead, won new supporters, mobilized more people and overcame more obstacles,” said Proctor in a statement. “This campaign is built off regular people who know that the Right to Repair is the right thing to do, and took action in the face of resistance from the biggest companies in the world,” he said.
While Right to Repair legislation has died in committee in California for the last 5 years, public support for the Right to Repair in- and outside of the state has grown considerably. Voters in Massachusetts passed an expansion of their state automotive right to repair law by 74% to 26%. Lawmakers in New York, Colorado and Minnesota have subsequently passed Right to Repair laws covering electronics, agricultural equipment and power wheelchairs.
“After a decade of fighting against Right to Repair, Apple has decided to support our legislation,” said Repair.org Executive Director Gay Gordon-Byrne. “Its a huge win for the whole coalition that were dogged in their pursuit of legislation, and a proud moment for all of us watching the big guns fall — once again.”
Should it pass a vote in the California legislature, the bill has a good chance of being signed into law. It would be the nation’s most robust repair law to date, covering a wide range of consumer electronics and home appliances. As written, SB 244 would require manufacturers to provide parts, tools, and repair diagnostics necessary for both consumers and third-party repair providers to fix products. It would also set a term for availability of parts and updates: three years after the last date of product manufacture for products that cost between $50 and $99.99 and seven years for products that cost more than $99.99. The bill also empowers city, county, or state governments to bring cases over violations of the law in superior court, with funding provided by fines on manufacturers caught violating the law.
NHTSA walks back opposition to MA auto repair law, a letter from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to Massachusetts’ Attorney General walks back a June warning to automakers not to comply with the state’s expanded vehicle right to repair law by providing owners and independent garages with access to vehicle telematic data needed for repairs.
The letter, dated August 22, was signed by Kerry Kolodziej, an Assistant Chief Counsel for Litigation and Enforcement at NHTSA – the same attorney who authored the June 13th letter to the lead counsel at 22 major U.S. automakers that argued that the Massachusetts law poses a safety risk and therefore violates the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, (Safety Act), 49 C.F.R. Chapter 301.
Bambu Lab, a company known for its 3D printers, faced a major outage in its cloud-based printing system on August 15, causing printers to repeatedly receive the same print jobs and reportedly damaging some machines; the incident has raised concerns about the company’s cloud reliance, privacy, intellectual property, and control issues, prompting questions about trusting the manufacturer’s approach and highlighting the need for a LAN mode as an alternative to cloud connectivity.
Apple has agreed to pay a battery-gate settlement of $310 million to $500 million to around 3 million users of pre-2018 model iPhones who filed complaints against the company for intentionally slowing down their devices through software updates, a practice known as ‘batterygate’; affected users who filed claims in 2017 can expect to receive around $65 each, as the iOS updates slowed down phones with aging batteries to prevent shutdowns, sparking claims of planned obsolescence by artificially limiting device lifespan to encourage replacement purchases, although Apple has denied wrongdoing and stated that the throttling was aimed at prolonging device lifespan.
Lagos, Nigeria has opened a ‘Trash for Cash’ zonal office to encourage the recycling of plastic waste into raw materials. The agency aims to raise awareness about the dangers of improper plastic disposal and advocate for the adoption of circular economy practices in Lagos State.
A new community art center called 32° East Arts Centre has opened in Kampala, Uganda. The center aims to promote local, sustainable, and community-based architecture, and serves as a space for artists to gather and collaborate. Designed by New Makers Bureau, the center covers a site area of 470sqm and has a gross internal area of 160 sqm.
The automotive industry’s reliance on new designs and frequent consumer purchases would be massively changed by an economic system favoring circularity. Circularity would mean ending planned obsolescence, shifting towards rational motives for buying new or used vehicles, and challenging the current model of exporting vehicles, as local refurbishment.
E-bike manufacturers continue to advocate for battery recycling rather than allowing independent repairs due to safety concerns. Advocates for Right to Repair laws argue that individuals should have the option to choose safe repair shops and manage the risks themselves. However, advocating for battery recycling over repair also highlights environmental benefits, such as reducing electronic waste and promoting a more sustainable and circular economy.
Approximately 50 million tons of electronic waste (e-waste) are discarded each year worldwide, with only 5% being recycled but creative initiatives like Esquinazo Recicla turn e-waste into art in Buenos Aires, emphasizing the need for responsible disposal to support a circular economy and a sustainable future.
An open source and modular waterwheel system has been developed by a group in Nepal, consisting of trapezoidal steel “buckets” that can be easily assembled using readily available resources, with the wheels generating between 120 to 1,400 Watts of power, and a software tool has been created to calculate optimal wheel dimensions and power output based on location characteristics.
France continues to roll out its ‘repair bonus’ initiative encouraging people to repair clothing to combat garment waste, offering reimbursements for repairs conducted at affiliated workshops; this effort is part of broader textile industry reforms in France, and while looking to Bangladesh’s long-standing upcycling practices for inspiration, it emphasizes the importance of minimizing waste, extending textile lifespans, and embracing circular economy principles to promote sustainability and reduce environmental impact
An event titled Electronics < > Ecologies: Repair on August 30th hosted by Griffith University. The event will discuss environmental concerns linked to technology consumption, emphasizing the need for electronic device repair to extend their lifespan, while also highlighting how proprietary software, especially from vertically-integrated companies, can impede the growth of a sustainable repair ecosystem, and it will bring together experts, industry practitioners, activists, and emerging researchers to discuss these issues and explore solutions for electronics repair on a global scale.