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Apple is reportedly lobbying against a piece of legislation in Nebraska that would require it to provide parts and service manuals to consumers and third-party repair shops.
This so-called “right to repair” bill was first introduced in Nebraska earlier this year. State Senator Lydia Brasch, who originally sponsored the bill in the state, told BuzzFeed News that she recently met with an Apple representative by the name of Steve Kester, who warned her against the potential risks of such a bill passing. Specifically, Kester reportedly told her that Nebraska would become a “Mecca for bad actors,” with hackers and criminals likely to flood into the state.
The bill would not just apply to iPhones, however. Nebraska’s right to repair bill, LB67, would also target tablets, personal computers, printer, and even electronic farming equipment. According to Sen. Brasch, Kester told her that Apple would not oppose the bill if smartphones were excepted from the legislation. Apple contends that allowing this level of access would open up security and privacy risks for its various devices. Other companies, such as John Deere and Samsung, have stated that the legislation could expose industry secrets. A host of tech industry groups recently penned a letter to Sen. Brasch laying out these arguments. Those industry groups represent tech heavyweights such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Sony and Samsung.
Indeed, since right to repair tech legislation was first introduced, its proponents have faced an uphill battle. New York Senator Phil Boyle, who helped sponsor such a bill in 2014, has stated that tech companies have consistently lobbied against it. “Some of us believe that this practice is monopolistic,” Sen. Boyle told BuzzFeed. “If I buy a computer, they are almost requiring me to go back to the facility to get it fixed at an inflated rate.”
On the other end of the spectrum, right to repair legislation would obviously benefit those living in remote or rural communities — as certified Apple repair outlets and retail stores are oftentimes few and far between. In Nebraska, for example, there is only one Apple Store. Getting their devices repaired would require traveling a long distance, or sending their electronics through the mail.
Nebraska is not the only state that’s considering such a bill — it’s just the only one to hold legislative hearings. Similar bills are being sponsored in Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Tennessee and Wyoming.