California to Introduce 'Right to Repair' Bill Requiring Smartphone Manufacturers to Offer Repair Info and Parts
California is preparing to join several other states with a new Right to Repair bill, which will require smartphone manufacturers to provide repair information, replacement parts, and diagnostic tools to product owners and independent repair shops.
California Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman this afternoon announced plans to introduce the new California Right to Repair Act. Eggman says the bill will provide consumers with the freedom to choose a repair shop of their choice.
"The Right to Repair Act will provide consumers with the freedom to have their electronic products and appliances fixed by a repair shop or service provider of their choice, a practice that was taken for granted a generation ago but is now becoming increasingly rare in a world of planned obsolescence," Eggman said.
Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste said smartphone manufacturers and home appliance makers are "profiting at the expense of our environment and our pocketbooks" while Kit Walsh, Senior Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the new bill is "critical to protect independent repair shops and a competitive market for repair," which will lead to "better service and lower prices."
In addition to California, 17 other states have already introduced similar Right to Repair legislation, including Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Several states began introducing Right to Repair legislation early last year, and the Right to Repair movement has continued on since then, spurred by Apple's iPhone throttling controversy.
Since last year, Apple has been lobbying against Right to Repair bills in various states, as have several other technology companies. In Nebraska, for example, Apple said approving Right to Repair would turn the state into a "mecca for bad actors" making it "easy for hackers to relocate to Nebraska." Other arguments from tech companies and appliance manufacturers have suggested Right to Repair bills would compromise device security and safety.
Right to Repair bills are heavily endorsed by repair outlets like iFixit, independent repair shops, and consumer advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
In California specifically, the Right to Repair bill is particularly interesting because as Motherboard points out, there are strong repairability laws already in place. California Civil Code Section 1793.03 states that companies must offer parts for repair for at least seven years after a product is released, which is why on Apple's vintage and obsolete products list, it lists California as the sole state where consumers can continue to get repairs on vintage products.
Apple currently requires customers who have Apple products in need of repair to visit an Apple retail store, mail a product to an Apple repair facility, or visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider to receive support for their devices. Repairs from third-party repair shops that are not Apple Authorized Service Providers can void a device's warranty.
Apple's current flagship iPhone, the iPhone X, earned a repairability score of 6 from repair site iFixit. Repairs on the device require a special Apple-specific screw driver, delicate cables are often in the way and are difficult to replace, and Apple's waterproofing makes repairs complicated. Other Apple products, like MacBooks, have much lower repairability scores.