Electronics

Leaked Docs Suggest Apple Could Easily Implement ‘Right to Repair’

Apple is furiously opposing so-called “right to repair” legislation across the US, but a cache of leaked documents seem to show how easily Apple could comply with the proposed rules. The secretive Apple Genuine Parts Repair program is only available to select companies, offering Apple-certified parts, training, and tools — exactly what right-to-repair laws would make available to everyone.

Companies like Apple and Microsoft have campaigned against right to repair, claiming that “bad actors” will use these laws to compromise devices. At the same time, Apple has apparently started making parts and data available to select firms like California’s Mobile Kangaroo and the UK’s AA Mac. Motherboard showed the leaked presentation documents to iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens, who agreed it looked like a “framework for complying with right to repair legislation.”

The goal of right to repair legislation is to ensure that big technology companies like Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft can’t monopolize servicing for their devices. Under the laws, companies would need to make replacement parts available for purchase to third-party repair shops and the public. They would also need to make software diagnostics accessible so people won’t be locked out from repairing their devices.

When a company like Apple gets to withhold parts and documentation, it results in longer waits and higher prices for consumers. Software authentication sometimes prevents third-party repair technicians from even touching a broken device. People are more likely to just toss an old phone or computer in the trash when repairs are too costly or difficult to get.

The newly uncovered Apple Genuine Parts Repair program is different than the Authorized Service Provider program. The latter has been available for years, but it only allows third-parties to perform certain Apple-authorized repairs like swapping screens and batteries. More complicated fixes require consumers to mail devices back to Apple.

The existence of the Apple Genuine Parts Repair program seems to undercut many of Apple’s arguments against right-to-repair laws. No one is undermining the security of Apple’s products simply by fixing phones more quickly and cheaply than Apple. Wiens believes this might be an attempt by Apple to kill legislation by claiming it’s already giving the repair community what it wanted. However, the program is still under Apple’s control, and it decides who can have access to it. Right-to-repair advocates might have a different kind of fight on their hands.

Top photo credit: iFixit

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