Surprise! Apple Says It Supports America’s Right to Repair Now

Surprise! Apple Says It Supports America’s Right to Repair Now

Apple, once a perpetual thorn in the side of frustrated repair technicians across the country, now says it supports federal right-to-repair legislation. The Right to Repair movement’s Darth Vader is continuing its surprising redemption arch.

Apple Vice President Brian S. Naumann made the shocking proclamation during an online right-to-repair event hosted by the Biden Administration Tuesday afternoon. Naumann, who recently echoed support for California’s newly passed right-to-repair law, said both consumers and businesses alike would benefit from clear federal legislation that makes it easier for consumers to repair products while maintaining device security.

“Apple supports a uniform federal law that balances repairability with product integrity, data security, usability, and physical safety,” Naumann said.

Lawmakers have introduced several federal right-to-repair bills in recent years vying to increase the repairability of consumer electronics as well as automobile and agricultural equipment. At least four states have passed their own local laws. The Biden White House and the Federal Trade Commission have vocally supported those efforts both on the state and federal levels.

But Apple isn’t sitting on its hands while Congress deliberates. Moving forward, Naumann says Apple will honor provisions in California’s nation-leading right-to-repair legislation for Apple customers nationwide, a move that could make it easier for millions of Apple consumers to repair their iPhones, MacBooks, and other devices.

Apple has some ideas on what a federal right-to-repair law should look like too. Speaking to an audience of reporters on a live stream, Naumann said a federal law should maintain consumer privacy and device security features as well as ensure transparency about the types of parts used in a repair. If implemented properly, Naumann says a federal law could save consumers money, reduce electronic waste from discarded devices, and “reduce the confusion created by potentially confusing state approach.”

Still, Apple made it clear it would rather avoid having its customers seek out repairs in the first palace. During the event, Naumann said the company’s ultimate goal is to design for product longevity through improved durability and ongoing support for devices.

“The very best repair is the repair that isn’t needed,” Naumann added.

Apple’s right to repair evolution

That’s all a major shift in approach for Apple, who only a few years ago lobbied to kill the budding right-to-repair legislation. Kyle Wiens, a major advocate for right-to-repair laws and chief executive of iFixit once called the company “the biggest opponent” to legislative efforts around the country. That all started to change in 2021 when Apple announced it would begin accommodating DIY repairs by selling customers the parts and tools as part of its Self-Service Repair program. The company followed through, and soon began shipping repair technicians comically large repair toolboxes.

But oversized gift boxes and accountable legislation are two separate things.

Earlier this year, Apple shocked many by shouting its support for California’s now-passed Right to Repair Act, which many advocates regard as the strongest consumer electronics repair legislation in the country. Starting in July 2024, electronics manufacturers selling devices in the state will be legally required to make repair parts, tools, documentation, and software available to consumers and independent repair shops. Supporters say it’s the most expansive, consumer-friendly right-to-repair legislation passed to date. In some cases, the law will require manufacturers to provide repair resources for devices up to seven years after they are sold. Apple, according to an August letter sent to California Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman, said it supported the bill because it “includes requirements that protect individual users’ safety and security, as well as product manufacturers’ intellectual property.”

Apple evolved its position on repairs even further today with its vocal support of a federal law, something few device manufacturers have been willing to do so far. So why now? In some ways, Apple’s seemingly newfound enlightenment regarding the right to repair isn’t all that surprising. As of October 23, New York, California, and Minnesota have all already passed strong right-to-repair laws targeting Apple and other device makers. Around 45 other states have similarly considered some form of right-to-repair legislation, according to At least some of those are likely to pass.

If even a handful of those proposed right-to-repair laws pass, Apple and other device manufacturers may find themselves in the same confusing policy many social media companies have had to wade through with patchwork data privacy laws. After a certain point, it simply makes more business sense to favour one clean, national framework. Apple, in other words, likely sees which way the wind is blowing.

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