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Apple does a 180 and endorses California's right-to-repair law

Where Apple goes, the tech firms will follow.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
right to repair
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Apple has a long history of being opposed to users having the right to repair iPhones and Macs. The company once went so far as to say that a bill in Nebraska that sought to enshrine into law an owner's right to repair risked turning the state into a "Mecca" for hackers.

But times change.

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Not only does Apple now have its own self-service repair program that gives owners access to tools and parts and know-how, but the company is now endorsing a right-to-repair bill in California.

The bill, known as SB 244, strengthens warranty laws and enshrines in the law books Californians' right to repair a broad range of consumer electronics and home appliances. And, just as important, it will require manufacturers to offer the parts, tools, and even repair diagnostics necessary for both consumers and third-party repairers.

This is long overdue because Californians are generating e-waste at a rate of 54 pounds per second.

That's some 800,000 tons a year.

It's just not sustainable.

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I could berate Apple for not doing more sooner, but the past is the past, and seeing the company not just step aside, but endorse a right-to-repair bill is good news for consumers, third-party repairers, and the planet.

"Apple's endorsement of the Right to Repair Bill in California is a watershed moment for consumer rights," wrote Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit. "It feels like the Berlin Wall of tech repair monopolies is starting to crumble, brick by brick."

And Wiens is right; this really is a watershed moment.

Because where Apple goes, other big names in tech hardware -- Samsung, Microsoft, Motorola, HP, and many others -- will follow.

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The winds of change are definitely blowing through the tech world.

"It's not just about providing parts and tools for repairs," wrote Liz Chamberlain, iFixit's Director of Sustainability, "it's about empowering consumers to make environmentally responsible choices. Right to Repair has been building momentum in Big Tech's backyard. It's about time Apple opens the front door."

EU regulations have undoubtedly brought about the demise of the Lightning port on the iPhone and are pushing manufacturers towards user-replaceable batteries by 2027.

Hopefully, we'll now see the tech industry as a whole take the idea of repair and recycling a lot more seriously, and factor easier user repairs into their designs and make the parts, tools, and know-how available to help keep their products out of landfill.

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