New York state records reveal the sums Apple, Verizon, Lexmark and other tech companies have spent there on lobbying efforts against right to repair legislation.
We learned back in February that Apple was formally opposing a bill in Nebraska that would have given consumers and independent repair shops the legal right to buy spare parts and to access service manuals in order to carry out their own repairs. That opposition was successful, lawmakers backing down.
Apple is currently fighting attempts to introduce a Fair Repair Act in New York after successfully defeating similar bills in both 2015 and 2016 …
Motherboard reports that state records show which companies are lobbying against the bill, and the sums they have spent doing so.
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.
The piece notes that this is an aggregate sum, covering all political lobbying by the companies named, but notes that Apple is spending $9,000 per month to one law firm for lobbying work, and that the Fair Repair Act is one of only three bills Apple lobbied on in March and April.
Apple argues that DIY repairs can compromise both the safety and security of devices, citing the fire risks posed by lithium-ion batteries and the security risks of unknown companies accessing devices that rely on hardware like Touch ID for their security. The latter argument came to a head last year when it was discovered that replacing the Home button on an iPhone 6 resulted in the devices being deliberately bricked.
When iPhone is serviced by an authorised Apple service provider or Apple retail store for changes that affect the touch ID sensor, the pairing is re-validated. This check ensures the device and the iOS features related to touch ID remain secure. Without this unique pairing, a malicious touch ID sensor could be substituted, thereby gaining access to the secure enclave. When iOS detects that the pairing fails, touch ID, including Apple Pay, is disabled so the device remains secure.
The Fair Repair Act (Senate Bill S618A) is current at the committee stage. If it goes forward from there, it will need to pass votes in both state Senate and Assembly and be signed by the Governor in order to become law.
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