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Apple Is Lobbying Against Your Right To Repair iPhones, New York State Records Confirm (vice.com) 235

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Lobbying records in New York state show that Apple, Verizon, and the tech industry's largest trade organizations are opposing a bill that would make it easier for consumers and independent companies to repair your electronics. The bill, called the "Fair Repair Act," would require electronics companies to sell replacement parts and tools to the general public, would prohibit "software locks" that restrict repairs, and in many cases would require companies to make repair guides available to the public. Apple and other tech giants have been suspected of opposing the legislation in many of the 11 states where similar bills have been introduced, but New York's robust lobbying disclosure laws have made information about which companies are hiring lobbyists and what bills they're spending money on public record. According to New York State's Joint Commission on Public Ethics, Apple, Verizon, Toyota, the printer company Lexmark, heavy machinery company Caterpillar, phone insurance company Asurion, and medical device company Medtronic have spent money lobbying against the Fair Repair Act this year. The Consumer Technology Association, which represents thousands of electronics manufacturers, is also lobbying against the bill. The records show that companies and organizations lobbying against right to repair legislation spent $366,634 to retain lobbyists in the state between January and April of this year. Thus far, the Digital Right to Repair Coalition -- which is generally made up of independent repair shops with several employees -- is the only organization publicly lobbying for the legislation. It has spent $5,042 on the effort, according to the records.
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Apple Is Lobbying Against Your Right To Repair iPhones, New York State Records Confirm

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, 2017 @11:36PM (#54446465)

    I'm exercising my right to not buy iphones.

    • That is one reason (among many) that the cheap China Androids are popular. They are not locked down. This is a buying decision for many. No, not all, but it is a market.
      • Unless you mean actual Chinese Android phones; they're riddled with spyware. The Star N9500 is a Samsung Galaxy S4 knockoff that came with malware (Android.Trojan.Uupay.D) preinstalled.
        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          Yeah, and how about the Oppo, Xiaomi, or Huawei with spyware? No-name phones from anywhere are not reliable. The cheap chinese phones are cheaper and better than many of the other brands.
        • All I care is that the boot loader is unlocked so I can install my own OS and remove the spyware. This can not be done with Apple or Samsung.
          • Funny, trying to get to the recovery menu on my S8+ I inadvertently managed to get to a ROM flashing utility of some sort, complete with a warning that flashing a non-Samsung OS could void my warranty. Apparently it's not as locked down as some of their older models.
    • that you shouldn't be able to fix something you found either or something that was given to you.

      they don't care if you don't buy a new iphone. they care that YOU DO NOT FIX your friends iphone so he has to buy a new one.

      btw want to know what apple is going to do with next iphone? just epoxy the whole fucking thing and call it thermal management.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Smartphones are useless pieces of shit. No, wait. They are worse than useless. They are harmful.

      - They distance people from each other by taking away reasons to meet in person.
      - They are designed to break.
      - They are designed to be hard and expensive to fix.
      - They cost so much the price alone ties the user to the product because he does not want to just throw it away and buy another.
      - They are somebody else's cashiers the user voluntarily carries around just in case he wants to give some more of his cash awa

      • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Friday May 19, 2017 @04:34AM (#54447093)

        It's a portable computer and communication device, nothing more. You can buy a decent one for as little as $150 and as much as $800, and typically last for several years if you take reasonably good care of it. If it's causing some existential crisis in your life, that's all on you, not on the smartphone.

      • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
        "Smartphones Ruined My Life" - Let me know when your book comes out.
        • You're going to wait a while, he will have to self-publish it you see. His publisher got cold feet after the lackadaisical sales of his last books: 1001 cures for wanker's cramp.

  • Unless you bribe (I mean lobby) the right people with enough money (I mean alternative facts) then of course you can expect to get nowhere.

    Fact, figures and logic dont feed the re-election beast boy, she only eats greenbacks.
  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Thursday May 18, 2017 @11:57PM (#54446545)

    Time to get the grassroots campaigns going. Repair Cafe fixers and clients, every member of every hackerspace, repair shops of all kinds, independent repair contractors, a large number of Slashdotters, and just average citizens who are tired of getting the shaft - all of them together could probably kick in enough money for some serious bribes. (Because let's face it - lobbying is essentially bribery). It might succeed in thwarting this loathsome, sleazy corporate assault on decency and fairness; but even if it doesn't, it will at least cost the bastards still more money for still bigger bribes, and will result in more news coverage that may convince more people to get behind the next campaign to tell the corporate bastards to fuck off with their 'you no longer own things, you only rent them' bullshit.

    • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Friday May 19, 2017 @12:05AM (#54446579)
      Or stop buying their shit so they have less money for bribes!
      • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

        That is the only course of action with a chance of succeeding. Apple and the others have more money for lobbying than any opposition, the only thing that will hurt them is a strike to the hip pocket.

        Try this - walk into an Apple retailer, preferably an actual Apple store, ask to see a phone/iPad, then ask if repairs, should they be needed, can be carried by non-apple techs for its expected lifetime (3 years?), then walk out if they won't give you such an undertaking. That kind of feedback will make its way

        • I will never buy a phone from a third-party supplier again - it's straight to the google store next time.

          Or direct from the source. It hurts less when abandoned after two years if you only paid $100 for it. Frankly I do not see the benefit in brands over the eBay phones anymore. (Yes they are riddled with spyware, but so is the phone from Verizon. Root it and install your own. If you can...)

  • The goold ol' days (Score:5, Interesting)

    by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Friday May 19, 2017 @12:42AM (#54446685) Journal

    The schematic for the TV set was inside the box. You pulled tubes and took them to the store to be tested. The companies made money hand over fist, and independent repair shops did OK too.

    The companies that made those old TV sets *did* eventually go into decline, and in some cases Chapter 11. That had nothing to do with independent repair shops. It had everything to do with other countries making things more cheaply under an open trade policy, and other companies being more innovative.

    So. Go ahead Apple. Try to lock yourself into the top spot. Go ahead. We dare you. Oh, and Cupertino? Rochester, NY and Detroit, MI might have some lessons to teach you. Enjoy your spaceship. These are the good ol' days.

    • by Miamicanes ( 730264 ) on Friday May 19, 2017 @02:34AM (#54446881)

      The deathblow that killed the American TV-manufacturing industry was LCD TVs. LCDs are something profoundly subject to economies of scale... especially in larger sizes, with few/no dead/stuck pixels. The LCD panel accounts for most of the BOM cost. With Asian companies making basically 100% of consumer LCD panels, there's basically no real profit for a company to buy those panels & assemble them into TVs in America. Or Europe. I doubt whether many TVs are even still made in JAPAN (Japan hasn't been a 'cheap labor' country for at least the past 25+ years).

      DLP TVs were the dying gasp of the American, European, and Japanese TV industries, because they were so big & heavy, the shipping logistics ALONE made assembly within surface-transportation-range almost a necessity... and even then, "American" TVs were mostly assembled in Mexico by Japanese companies.

      Zenith ultimately fucked ITSELF out of business. ~10 years ago, DirecTV wanted to make a "whole house" DVR that rebroadcast recorded content over the customer's existing rg59/rg6 coax using ATSC (so you wouldn't need a box per tv... you'd just tune one tv to channel 2, one to channel 3, and so on, then associate the RF remote for that room with that channel. Everything went well when the prototypes were developed... then Zenith quoted them a jaw-dropping price for the 8vsb modulator's chipset that was so outrageously expensive, the American satellite tv industry just abandoned the whole idea of ATSC modulators in favor of ethernet (or MoCA, or HomePlug, or wifi) networked mini-STBs. Basically, Zenith and what was left of the American TV industry figured they could collectively milk consumers for ATSC-related royalties, and didn't expect DirecTV (and Dish network) to do an end-run around their broadcast-related ATSC patents.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        It sure seems like the American TV industry went south before LCDs.

        I seem to remember mostly Japanese TVs being desirable in the 1980s -- Sony, JVC, Panasonic. Maybe you could still buy an American made TV at that point, but they certainly weren't what most people were actually buying.

        • I believe digital comb filters were the last real advance of the pre-ATSC American TV industry. The things of that era that really MATTERED to consumers, like Trinitron picture tubes, S-Video, and PLL digital tuners, were all Japanese. What remained of the American VCR manufacturers was incinerated once Sony decided to allow VHS mfrs. to license its Betamax IP (remember how, pre-1986, VHS VCRs had to do the "pause-chuckka-chuckka" dance to switch between 'play' and ff/rw? Or the switch from low-fi linear st

          • by swb ( 14022 )

            Up until the late 1990s we had a chain of Sony stores, including a factory repair office, around here. It was great, because you could buy pretty much anything Sony, which was great in the pre-Internet era where there was no Internet for tracking down random parts or models not for sale in conventional retail outlets.

            As for LaserDisc, I think it was just too little, too late next to the economies of scale of VHS and its functionality. A friend bought one around 1992, connected via S-Video, and the improve

      • It was killed by "dumping" of sets into the US market at or below cost by Japanese manufacturers beginning in the 1970s, and peaking in the 1980s.

        http://www.nytimes.com/1983/12... [nytimes.com]

        https://www.washingtonpost.com... [washingtonpost.com]

      • No the need for HDCP killed that idea.

      • by torkus ( 1133985 )

        DLP TVs were the dying gasp of the American, European, and Japanese TV industries, because they were so big & heavy, the shipping logistics ALONE made assembly within surface-transportation-range almost a necessity...

        I think most car manufacturers would disagree.

        Also, Japan is an asian country last I checked...

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      The schematic for the TV set was inside the box. You pulled tubes and took them to the store to be tested. The companies made money hand over fist, and independent repair shops did OK too.

      The companies that made those old TV sets *did* eventually go into decline, and in some cases Chapter 11. That had nothing to do with independent repair shops. It had everything to do with other countries making things more cheaply under an open trade policy, and other companies being more innovative.

      So. Go ahead Apple. Tr

      • I think that must be hyperbole on your part to say a TV cost a year's salary. Here are some TV prices from the tube days [tvhistory.tv]. You can plug these numbers into a CPI adjuster (too bad they didn't do that for us). For example, you get $2,078.04 for the 1960 17" BW Tabletop Philco. I chose that one because we were still using something comparable when I was a real little kid in the early 70s. A PC cost about that much for a long time. Not cheap, but not ridiculous either.

        Some of the other sets on that list do

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      They are locked in for several years in the top spot selling overpriced goods (Otherwise where do those huge profits from?). The thing with these kind of lawsuits is that unless there is a serious political change in the US, that the question becomes not IF but WHEN this will be turned into law.

      The majority of companies are waiting how this turns out and you can bet that this will become the standard for everything from cars to houses to your shoe laces. John Deere is just one of the bigger names out there

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, 2017 @01:17AM (#54446751)

    Lets hear a story about a client of mine from two weeks ago.
    She was using her computer one day. Goes to turn it on - and the hard drive symbol is flashing on the screen.

    So she books an appointment with a Genius. Takes her 2010? 2012? IMAC to the Apple store for a hard drive replacement.
    Only to be told "I am sorry. They do not make parts for that model anymore". Disappointed and a little suspicious she contacts my company. I advice her that not only did they mislead her - but I am going to make her computer faster than when she bought it by throwing in an SSD. I am sure you know what the results were.

    It was very evident then and it is evident now that the reason why they do not want people to repair their products is because they want the customer to have to shell out money for a new device.

    If greed is going to be the sole motivator for the majority of these businesses. As consumers we are going to be left in a very awkward position in a few years when the big business has managed to squeeze out all other competitors.

  • by Khyber ( 864651 ) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Friday May 19, 2017 @01:36AM (#54446783) Homepage Journal

    You're being given another source of (potentially more lucrative) aftermarket repair product sales, such as controller chips, processors (many shops can reflow these on no problem) headphone jacks, charge ports, etc.

    You can charge money for the access to the documentation.

    There's so much money to be made that if I were a SMART manufacturer, I'd be sitting here opposing anyone that opposed this law, and going ahead and doing this anyways, and start eating straight into the sales of Apple, Verizon, etc.

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Friday May 19, 2017 @02:00AM (#54446829)

    But if you take my right to lockdown my tractors, how am I going to force the farmers to pay me for every repair?! -- John Deere

    • Tractors are interesting examples. If looked after well they can last three decades. Sure they won't be as effective/efficient as the latest/greatest but the fact that smaller farms can continue to use their older equipment helps to keep overheads down. The fact there was a good secondhand market actually helped those farmers with large holdings who wanted to keep current. But sorry John Deere, you can't sell a new tractor.

      Still the Russians continue to produce a good selection of field maintainable gear.

  • Lobbying is bribing, I don't understand how the whole country is content with this situation.

    This system is a democracy of corporations, where votes are cast with money, and lots of it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, 2017 @02:52AM (#54446913)

    You know, a long time ago I used to feel like Apple actually cared about me as a user. They made some neat stuff that was genuinely easy to use, and whenever they came out with new stuff, it was generally worth upgrading to. If not, then you could be sure that your current hardware would continue to work as well as the day you got it until it broke. They didn't go out of their way to make it easy to service stuff, but they didn't make it hard either- anyone with half a brain, a copy of the service source manuals, and a few tools could pretty much fix 99% of the issues their hardware encountered after a reasonably long life of use.

    I look at Apple today, and I just have to shake my head.

    The iPhones are now being cryptographically paired on an internal component level. This is being done in the name of "security", which is bullshit, it's just great for their bottom line. You can't install any other software on them other than iOS, which again, is being done in the name of "security", but that too is bullshit- they just want to force upgrades down your throat to the point that your device becomes an inoperable mess (like the 4S and iPad 2 running iOS 9).

    The iMacs have gone from a 100% modular, user serviceable layout (which was quite a remarkable feat of engineering) to a 100% user unserviceable built-as-cheaply-as-possible-in-China system, complete with all the major components soldered to the system board and non-reusable foam sealant all around the glass panel (which you have to break and replace to open up the system).

    The Mac Mini has gone from a 100% user serviceable system that you could literally open up with two thumbs- to a system with half the power and soldered RAM on the main board. You can no longer open up the case without using special tools.

    The laptops all have built-in permanent batteries adhered to the entire upper chassis. You need a new battery? You get a whole new upper chassis. The keyboards aren't even designed to be the least bit liquid resistant, and they're manufacturing them so thin now you're pretty much screwed if you ever drop the machine and warp the chassis (which you will, because it's made out of an extremely soft aluminum).

    Then there's the Mac Pro, which went from a gorgeous silver tower that screamed "POWER" to... A tiny cylindrical machine that's prone to thermal throttling when loaded down to 100%, and the 2nd GPU is only accessible through an API that never quite worked right (OpenCL) and is now in the process of being depreciated and dropped.

    Now I hear of stuff like this, and them insisting on recycling facilities shredding (yes, shredding) used Mac systems... What the fuck happened to this company? I've never seen a corporation so hell-bent on producing user hostile hardware before. I don't know why people continue to buy their stuff.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      You have to go quite far back to find servicable mainstream Apple products. The original iPod had a non-user replaceable battery in the early 2000s. Around that time MacBooks started to get very hard to service too, requiring a full strip down just to change the HDD or RAM, or those damn logic boards that kept failing.

      • But the 2007-2009 unibody Macbook Pros were a miracle of serviceability, and the early white MacBooks were designed for easy DIY upgrades of the most commonly swapped components.
      • by torkus ( 1133985 )

        That's because of the drive to smaller devices.

        It's easier to make a small device that's glued together for strength and has everything on one main board. Cheaper too if you discount repair.

        The original iPod as an engineering marvel that utterly, completely trumped anything on the market. Not having to reinforce the case to include a battery door and removable battery significantly reduced size.

        I'm NOT saying we should be prohibited from repairing out devices, but I'm OK with them being more difficult to

    • The iPhones are now being cryptographically paired on an internal component level. This is being done in the name of "security", which is bullshit

      If you're talking about the fingerprint scanner, it's not bullshit, it really is for a very good security reason.

      I work on Android Security, at Google, and this is something that we want to do as well, but for complicated reasons haven't been able to do, not even in the Pixel devices. And we want to do it not because we're copying Apple but because it's addresses a real security issue. Let me explain:

      The security of fingerprints derives not from the secrecy of fingerpints (they're not secret, you leave them everywhere, including all over the surface of your phone, which is very convenient for phone thieves), but from the difficulty of preventing a fake fingerprint from being "scanned".

      The simplest way to fake a fingerprint scan is to disconnect the scanner and feed the digital fingerprint data in directly. This is really, really easy to do, given a little expertise and some very inexpensive equipment. The fingerprint scanner connects to the device via a standard SPI bus, so you just have to connect some other processor to the bus and feed in the bitmap of the fingerprint (which you photographed from the surface of the phone).

      The way to defeat this attack is to have the fingerprint scanner attach a cryptographic message authentication code (signature, if you will) which is produced with a key known to the CPU that will do the matching. This requires that the scanner and CPU be "paired" by arranging to share a key between them for producing and verifying these MACs. Further, it can't be too easy to pair a different scanner because then the attacker could just do that.

      So, the pairing of fingerprint scanners to SoCs really is for security. I have no idea what the motivation for fighting this bill is, and it may well be the brazen attempt to extract more money by disallowing third party repair that you claim it is, but that's not the case for the fingerprint scanner pairing.

      • Agreed that pairing the fingerprint scanner to the device adds security (though the total level of security is still rather low because, as you point out, you leave your fingerprints everywhere).

        But security is not Apple's primary goal. Self-enrichment is. When Apple bought Authentec (who made the fingerpring scanners), they dropped support for all scanners Authentec had sold in the past. Not only that, they removed existing drivers and software from the Authentec website. I only discovered this when
      • by torkus ( 1133985 )

        For someone with so much background I'm disappointed you have such a narrow view.

        Yes, secure communication between security devices is a Good Thing. Totally agree there.

        But there's no reason someone who owns their device and, given proper authentication, should be prevented from changing or re-issuing those device keys. If anything, this makes it MORE secure since only the user/owner has this ability and not the manufacturer.

        A properly secured system does not need to obscure it's functions to remain secur

      • Further, it can't be too easy to pair a different scanner because then the attacker could just do that.

        So only allow pairing a new scanner when the device is unlocked. Install a new scanner? PIN/password unlock, enter the service menu (which shouldn't be accessible on a locked device in the first place) and select "Pair Fingerprint Scanner".

        If the reason for not allowing it is so that someone can't use an altered or imposter scanner to unlock the device, requiring the user to be able to unlock the device first is sufficient security, as it proves that... well... the user can unlock the device. Preventing a user who can unlock the device already from pairing a new scanner doesn't prevent that user from unlocking the device... because... that... user... can... already... unlock... the... device...

        • So only allow pairing a new scanner when the device is unlocked.

          That sounds good, and I actually typed a long paragraph agreeing with you but pointing out concerns about complexity and the difficulty of getting such a complicated solution that must touch several layers of hardware and software right... until I noticed the fatal flaw. The basic problem is that you're assuming that everything will work correctly, but that is what security engineers specifically must *not* assume, except when and where it can be adequately justified. In this case, you neglected to conside

  • by mschaffer ( 97223 ) on Friday May 19, 2017 @06:18AM (#54447355)

    Enough whining about smartphones. What about fixing other devices?
    http://modernfarmer.com/2016/0... [modernfarmer.com]

    • More people care about smartphones and the laws that apply to smartphones would apply to tractors. Shut up and let the larger group throw their weight around for your benefit.
  • apple car will give you an error 53 if you use a non apple tire / non apple oil change / non apple charging station / non apple lights and so on.

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Friday May 19, 2017 @09:39AM (#54448027) Homepage Journal

    IP67/68 water resistance pretty much requires a sealed device, and sealing smartphones pretty much guarantees they are irreparable. Sealing with adhesives, thermal or other, denies the average consumer a means to disassemble the phone just to change the battery.

    And we will accept water resistance because the phones are so expensive we don't want a brief moment of strawberry daiquiri exposure to cost us even the deductible.

    And while battery life isn't on everyone's mind when they buy a new hot phone, it's a fairly common problem to see battery capacity diminish after 2 years. That is, for most of us, at least 800 charge cycles. Nothing is on the horizon that will do better. So we are mostly on a 2 year life cycle for most smartphones, especially the hot fast cool ones. 30 bucks a month in the US.

    By design. For a long time to come. And more not less.

    To be able to repair current design phones will require compromises, either design compromises or feature compromises. Water resistance the first.

    When I laundered my M7 I was really, really peeved. Mostly because I could not disassemble it sufficiently to dewater it. Well, actually mostly because I even sent it through half a dry cycle... But I could, then, replace the display on my wife's iPhone 6s. The M7, impenetrable. And now my Android choices are limited, if I want to skip a generation of CPU and step up to the most current chipset. Which of the options I have are fixable? Oh, and support my carrier's better radio bands, WiFi hotspot, WiFi calling, oh that gets difficult.

    We are being designed into losing the ability to fix stuff that could be fixed otherwise. I've been a two-way radio technician, calculator and tape recorder repairperson, typewriter repairperson, then PCs, but I can't see how to repair most smartphones for a living. The tools. The techniques. Impenetrable.

    • by sremick ( 91371 )

      IP67/68 water resistance pretty much requires a sealed device, and sealing smartphones pretty much guarantees they are irreparable. Sealing with adhesives, thermal or other, denies the average consumer a means to disassemble the phone just to change the battery.

      /me looks at his IP67-rated Galaxy S5

      /me pops off the back cover and removes battery.

      The whole "we need to glue these things down to make them thing/waterproof/solid-feeling/etc" is just bullshit.

  • Consumer hostility certainly requires a degree of courage.
  • by John.Banister ( 1291556 ) * on Friday May 19, 2017 @10:38AM (#54448363) Homepage
    Maybe next they could work on standardized connection interfaces for power tool batteries.
  • I wish I understood why Apple opposes it. Is it simple they want you to buy new phone (aka more sales $$$)? or do they have another reason for their opposition?

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