Right to repair laws are gaining momentum, with new support popping up across the US. Not only has Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak been showing his support for the regulations, it now looks as if the Biden Administration will be backing the bill, too (PCMag (opens in new tab), eTeknix (opens in new tab)).
If you haven't already seen the propaganda, the right to repair essentially forces tech manufacturers to make parts more readily available to the public. It gives unassociated repair outlets and users a free pass to tinker with equipment, rather than sending it back to the manufacturer for what can often be extortionate repairs. It could also see a reduction in consumers throwing out easily fixable gadgets, limiting waste as well as outgoings on brand new tech.
But the right to repair doesn't come without risks. Concerns range from improperly installed components, such as batteries, having the potential to cause harm (Bloomberg (opens in new tab)); personal data being more at risk of being stolen (Electrek (opens in new tab)); and, for anyone with a stake in the industry itself, going open source would mean giving up blueprints to the public.
Though the range of tech covered by the right to repair will vary from place to place, it's the kind of law that could lift the stifling rules some tech companies set regarding unofficial repairs. Apple for example is notorious for these kinds of limitations, and as such is one of the most fervent opponents of the legislation (BBC (opens in new tab)).
Since the company did away with the likes of the Apple 2, should your device break, your only option has been to get it repaired at an Apple-approved store, or by an official Apple 'Genius.' But with the recent Covid-19 pandemic seeing high streets all but abandoned, Apple repairs have ended up with something like 8 week long waiting lists, says Laptop Mag (opens in new tab).
Who's going to wait that long for a phone repair?
The solution, obviously, is to switch to Android. Failing that, the right to repair bill should ease some of your Apple-induced pain.
Having passed into law in the UK, and some of Europe, the right to repair is now gaining traction across the US. Many states are looking to broaden their stance regarding everyday tech repairs, including Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, and Oregon, among others.
Steve Wozniak made his views on the matter quite clear in his reply (opens in new tab) to right to repair campaigner Louis Rossmann on Cameo, in which he urges the industry to meet with a more open tech future. "We wouldn’t have had an Apple had I not grown up in a very open technology world," Wozniak notes. "It’s time to recognise the right to repair more fully. It’s time to start doing the right things!"
Wozniak no longer has much sway within Apple, despite still being on the payroll (opens in new tab) but, with his backing, as well as that of the Biden Administration, we may be a step closer to a more open source future for tech.