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.

iPhone X image via iFixit
"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.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

25 months ago
Good. Hope it passes.

I love advances in tech as much as anyone but I feel like we’re too disposable these days. My parents would repair anything we had if it broke but these days most people just throw away and replace broken electronics. It’s so wasteful.
Rating: 43 Votes
25 months ago
This is great news (unless your Apple), and something I hope continues. I can understand Apples point of view but on a somewhat separate note, they are charging an over the top Apple premium for not only (some) products but essentially all repairs.
Rating: 40 Votes
25 months ago
Ok, so who is responsible for devices that are "repaired" by third parties who in turn mess them up? At one point or another I have repaired every Phone up through the Phone 6. Usually because myself or my kids broke the screen. I have never had problems getting cheap parts from Amazon, nor any problem with screwdrivers or even replacement screws. BUT the repairs are NOT for the faint of heart, it is tricky, takes time and practice. I happen to have skills in this area so it doesn't bother me; but I wouldn't want to see someone just try and wing it, likely they'll break things worse.

The reality is, Apple's fee for most repairs is not that bad, typically about $100.
Rating: 33 Votes
25 months ago

Okay so have the right but 'void the warranty'?

yep but if warranty still in effect why would one repair themselves?
Rating: 28 Votes
25 months ago

Okay so I have the right to repair. I try to repair and damage the device further without knowing. What then? Crazy slippery slope.

one can already repair their car, their dishwasher, their xbox, their computer, etc all with OEM parts..... same risks

phones shouldn't be any different
Rating: 21 Votes
25 months ago
Okay so I have the right to repair. I try to repair and damage the device further without knowing. What then? Crazy slippery slope.
Rating: 18 Votes
25 months ago
So many people missing the point here.

The right to repair is not designed to specifically enable individuals to attempt amateur repairs, it is designed to create a competitive repair economy where skilled operators can 'officially' repair devices. In any such scenario, of course the repairer will be liable for the quality of the repair - just like your mechanic is responsible for the quality of the repair to your car.

Yes, today 3rd party repairers use inferior parts and methods, simply because they do not have access to Apple's supply chain to get official parts - this law would change that.

It will create a better repair market where competition drives benefit for the consumer. There will still be 3rd parties who offer repairs with unofficial or lower quality parts - at a discounted price, but this is the consumer choice.

When I recently smashed the screen of my iPad Air 2 my options were only:

* Official Apple Repair with Original Parts: $299
* 3rd Party repair with 3rd Party Parts: $50

So I went with the $50 option and you know what, I'm perfectly happy with it. However in the future I hope there might be a 3rd option:

* 3rd Party repair with Original Parts: maybe $150

For some people this will be the right price vs. risk point.

Consumer choice and market competition is only a good thing and Apple's opposition to it is purely selfish revenue and profit driven.
Rating: 15 Votes
25 months ago
While I understand the interest in the idea, this will be poorly executed.

What's next? Allow repair laptops to the component level?
If manufacturers will be required to provide every part to replace that will only drive the cost up.

I think Apple to go around this will say device needs to be repaired at Apple or authorized center. Other repairs will void all warranties.
Rating: 14 Votes
25 months ago
Great move!

Right now, consumers can't even buy a replacement part from Apple. You can't buy an OEM battery or display.

This is not just about the physical act of repairing. It's also about access to serviceable parts.
Rating: 13 Votes
25 months ago

Okay so I have the right to repair. I try to repair and damage the device further without knowing. What then? Crazy slippery slope.

Absolutely right. It's so much better to limit potential repair services to a single entity striving to be the world's first trillion dollar company making decision after decision that seems to grow profitability even at consumer expense/disadvantage/hassle. No slippery slope there.

Consumers would have a choice and choices are good. The problem you worry about could be addressed by one of those choices- pay up for Apple to fix something or risk further damage by using someone else offering much lower pricing. Choice is good for consumers. No choices are generally only good for corporations.
Rating: 13 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]