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Big Tech Squashes New York's 'Right To Repair' Bill (huffingtonpost.com) 224

Damon Beres, writing for The Huffington Post: Major tech companies like Apple have trampled legislation that would have helped consumers and small businesses fix broken gadgets. New York state legislation that would have required manufacturers to provide information about how to repair devices like the iPhone failed to get a vote, ending any chance of passage this legislative session. Similar measures have met the same fate in Minnesota, Nebraska, Massachusetts and, yes, even previously in New York. Essentially, politicians never get to vote on so-called right to repair legislation because groups petitioning on behalf of the electronics industry gum up the proceedings. "We were disappointed that it wasn't brought to the floor, but we were successful in bringing more attention to the issue," New York state Sen. Phil Boyle (R), a sponsor of the bill, told The Huffington Post.
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Big Tech Squashes New York's 'Right To Repair' Bill

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  • by _Sharp'r_ ( 649297 ) <sharper&booksunderreview,com> on Sunday June 19, 2016 @12:39PM (#52347489) Homepage Journal

    . Essentially, politicians never get to vote on so-called right to repair legislation because groups petitioning on behalf of the electronics industry gum up the proceedings.

    Leave it to the Huffington Post to somehow blame lobbyists without blaming the people they lobby. The only way they "gum up the proceedings" is by their influence with the leaders in the legislature, who are the ones who actually control the proceedings.

    A bill doesn't get a vote in the legislature because not enough of the right members wanted to vote on it (for a variety of reasons, I'm sure). You can't blame that strictly on the lobbyists without removing the responsibility of the members of the NY State Assembly and Senate for what they decide to vote and pass.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, 2016 @12:49PM (#52347527)

      Our "democratic" process is just an elaborate dog-and-pony show designed to make us feel like we have a voice in governance, when really the only voices that matter are those of the super-rich.

      People get really defensive when I point this out, because they like believing that we live in a democracy (ahem, constitutional republic), and that our representatives represent us, and that our votes matter.

      Wanting something to be true does not make it true.

      • by SeattleLawGuy ( 4561077 ) on Sunday June 19, 2016 @02:59PM (#52348137)

        Our "democratic" process is just an elaborate dog-and-pony show designed to make us feel like we have a voice in governance, when really the only voices that matter are those of the super-rich.

        People get really defensive when I point this out, because they like believing that we live in a democracy (ahem, constitutional republic), and that our representatives represent us, and that our votes matter.

        Wanting something to be true does not make it true.

        Close, but not quite.

        The super-rich voices matter a lot, but (1) there are some issues where even an individual letter or call can tip the scale--not many, but they exist. (2) Congresspeople need so much money every day that most of the time, your money doesn't buy you a voice on an issue. Also, (3) there are LOTS of ways to be listened to--but they involve using leverage. You don't approach your person individually most of the time--you do it by supporting an organization that lobbies or otherwise works on issues you care about, whether they do that through legislators or through direct service or through the courts.

        The ACLU does an amazing amount of work fighting for individual liberties, for example, filing briefs in lots of important cases throughout the country defending your rights. But whether you do it through the ACLU or the EFF or the AFL-CIO or even the NRA, unless you are amazing at influencing public discourse then you get YOUR influence by supporting the specific groups you mostly agree with. What the super-rich buy with money, you buy with a voting block and a block of voices.

        (Also, by acting to influence your local and state reps.)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, 2016 @01:17PM (#52347655)

      The Huffington Post doesn't want to blame the Politicians because the politicians responsible are DEMOCRATS. Huffington is a propaganda machine for the Democrat party. Nothing more.

    • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Sunday June 19, 2016 @01:29PM (#52347715) Journal

      Leave it to the Huffington Post to somehow blame lobbyists without blaming the people they lobby.

      Yeah well, don't blame them either. Unless you plan on voting them out, it makes you look fat. With a 95% reelection rate, the blame obviously lies elsewhere. The voters are rewarding bad behavior. Nothing can possibly change until that issue is acknowledged and dealt with.

    • by Archfeld ( 6757 ) <treboreel@live.com> on Sunday June 19, 2016 @03:34PM (#52348293) Journal

      Actually the rules on sub-committees, for right or wrong require that any group that follows procedures gets a say in the process before a bill can be forwarded to the floor for voting. This requirement generally exists to keep legislators from ramrodding a bill through to vote without the public getting any chance to have a say, but in this case, so-called interested party groups sponsored by the tech companies keep surfacing and demanding their $.02 worth and the time to comment. It is a filibuster forced by the 'interested' parties rather than the congress critters themselves. This kind of thing is a poster child for the initiative process, and really should be directed at the federal level rather than rely on a state by state, tooth and nail fight.

      • Who writes the rules for the sub-committee? For the whole legislature? Who grants exceptions to them, or can change them?

        That's right, the members and their leadership and their rules committee.

        It's not like the process is embedded in the NY State Constitution, other than to give the legislature control over their own rules and procedures. You can't blame "the rules" in order to avoid blaming the people who make and control "the rules".

        Maybe it's a good bill, maybe it's a bad one, but it wasn't passed becau

  • It says so in the User Manual. You void the warranty if you open it. And non-approved repairs leave you liable for any subsequent damages to persons or property from fire, explosion, radiation, hearing or vision loss, or children swallowing small parts. And probably looking inside is a criminal violation of the terms of service.

    • I still wonder why people pay so much for sealed black boxes that they never really own... The most I will spend on an un-serviceable item I can not root is under $100. And thanks to China, I can get top shelf Androids for that and root them easier then name brands!
    • "No User Servicable Parts" does not mean "No User Replacable Parts". True, you can't "service" a L-Ion battery, an ARM CPU or an LCD screen, but you can replace a battery/motherboard/display.
      • "No User Servicable Parts" does not mean "No User Replacable Parts". True, you can't "service" a L-Ion battery, an ARM CPU or an LCD screen, but you can replace a battery/motherboard/display.

        Except the battery, the rest of your "component" replacement-examples are nothing more than module-level replacements.

    • If the device is in warranty then it's the manufacturers responsibility to repair or replace it assuming it hasn't been subjected to abuse which would void the warranty.

      If the device is out of warranty due to expiration or abuse then the owner has every right to attempt repair. The manufacturer no longer has a say and the owner has all the power/responsibility for resulting "fire, explosion, radiation, hearing or vision loss, or children swallowing small parts."

      The manufacturer has no obligation to supply r

      • If the device is in warranty then it's the manufacturers responsibility to repair or replace it assuming it hasn't been subjected to abuse which would void the warranty.

        If the device is out of warranty due to expiration or abuse then the owner has every right to attempt repair. The manufacturer no longer has a say and the owner has all the power/responsibility for resulting "fire, explosion, radiation, hearing or vision loss, or children swallowing small parts."

        The manufacturer has no obligation to supply repair procedures or to repair the product but the owner may repair or contract with a third party to repair. Caveat Emptor.

        Any law which tries to force a manufacturer do anything it has not freely contracted to do is just plain wrong.

        And that's why it will never happen. Not because of licensing; but rather, because of the First Sale doctrine. Once you purchase it, it's YOURS. The only power the OEM has WHATSOEVER is the right to refuse to honor a WARRANTY due to tampering during that period.

  • by lesincompetent ( 2836253 ) on Sunday June 19, 2016 @12:44PM (#52347501)
    The rest of the world calls it corruption.
    The US calls it 'lobbying'.
    • And I call it "idiots" for buying a sealed box like that with more then beer money.
    • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Sunday June 19, 2016 @02:19PM (#52347957)

      The rest of the world calls it corruption.
      The US calls it 'lobbying'.

      No, the US calls it "freedom of assembly and speech," and it's protected under the very first amendment of the constitution. Let me guess, you'd like to reserve the right to get a few of your like-minded friends together and perhaps send one of them to talk to a committee chair about some piece of pending tech- or science-related legislation so they can avoid screwing it up ... but you'd like to silence other people that you don't like from doing exactly the same thing.

      Or would you prefer that nobody gets to talk to legislators? Or that you only get to talk to them if millions of people also get to, simultaneously? There's a reason that it makes sense to form groups (like, say, The Association Of Concerned Scientists or the League Of Open Source Protector Justice Warriors or the Sierra Club, or the NAACP or the NRA or whatever) to allow lots of people to pool their resources and speak with one voice when it suits them to do so. You want corruption? Ban the free speech and free association that allows such groups to exist and lobby for what's important to them - watch what happens then.

      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        The rest of the world calls it corruption

        The US calls it "freedom of assembly and speech"

        That's twice you have made an ass of yourself on this topic. I was trying to figure out what elaborate joke you were playing that was eluding me, but [shudder] I think you're absolutely on the level with your dreck. Go shill somewhere else.

        Only in your labyrinthine mind does freedom of assembly have anything whatever to do with lobbying, aka subversion and corruption.

        • Actually, it's right there in the Constitution [archives.gov]:

          Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

          Every signed petition form and written letter is following the same legal channel as a lobbyist. A lobbyist just opens the discussion by saying "I represent this many people associated with this organization, and they have this concern". A Washington Post op-ed piece [washingtonpost.com] says it well:

          How many remember that, in addition, the First Amendment protects a fifth freedom -- to lobby?

          Of course it doesn't use the word lobby. It calls it the right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Lobbyists are people hired to do that for you, so that you can actually stay home with the kids and remain gainfully employed rather than spend your life in the corridors of Washington.

        • That's twice you have made an ass of yourself on this topic.

          And here you are, unable to address the substance of the matter and instead relying on lazy, juvenile ad hominem. And pretending that you can't grasp that getting together to form an association (say, with the purpose of forwarding the interests of the association's members, including as matters that the association's members care about become subject to new legislation or regulation) isn't EXACTLY the sort of thing the nation's founders sought to protect when they prohibited the government from infringing

      • No, the US calls it "freedom of assembly and speech," and it's protected under the very first amendment of the constitution.

        What a peculiar spin you've got there!
        It is well known that the US is not a democracy but a plutocracy so even if i were to concede your point i would be simply pointing out another way for the rich to have their way against the public interest, simply because granting this (very much bent) definition of "freedom of speech and assembly" grants them the economic upper hand.
        I don't care how you spin it, anything against the public interest is clearly IMMORAL.

        • It is well known that the US is not a democracy but a plutocracy

          No it's not well known, but it is frequently asserted by people who want to spin things that way.

          I don't care how you spin it, anything against the public interest is clearly IMMORAL.

          So, people used to argue that abolishing slavery was against the public interest, as it would damage the economy, ruin long-held family estates, etc. Would you consider abolishing slavery to be immoral? No? I see.

          So it comes down to what you think is "in the public interest." I, for example, don't think it's in the public interest to establish and maintain a dependency-creating welfare state. So, you think

          • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

            Well, then what word would you use?

            what word describe it when the mass citizenry of the nation gets its concerns addressed to their satisfaction less than 10% of the time, but when broken down along financial term, the folks below the 1% find that satisfaction less than 1% of the time, but the top 1% find that satisfaction more than 30% of the time?

            sure sounds like the rich get an awful lot more power and influence to me.
            now what's the word for that?

            gee, I think its "plutocracy":

            government by the wealthy.
            a country or society governed by the wealthy.

            Sure seems to fit the situat

      • freedom of assembly and speech

        Freedom of assembly and speech is currently reserved for people with enough money to buy the right to that assembly. You don't have that "freedom".

        • Freedom of assembly and speech is currently reserved for people with enough money to buy the right to that assembly. You don't have that "freedom".

          So, you and ten people, or a thousand, want to form a group because you have something in common. Please detail what is stopping you from doing that. Specifically.

      • by rastos1 ( 601318 )

        There's a reason that it makes sense to form groups (...) to allow lots of people to pool their resources and speak with one voice when it suits them to do so.

        I have a question: how many people are represented by the lobbyist? My guess is that they will fit into one room. Are you saying that if I grab the same number of friends at the local pub, then I have the same chances?

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Sunday June 19, 2016 @12:49PM (#52347523)

    just wait for just wait for cars to be this way! dealer only is they really want and with that even stuff like an oil change may cost $50 + labor.

    • just wait for just wait for cars to be this way

      The majority of Slashdot is pushing for this. People want autonomous cars that you call on demand and don't have to own or maintain themselves.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, 2016 @01:26PM (#52347699)

        Even normal, non-autonomous cars are becoming this way. It used to be it was easy to replace the vendor's radio system with your own using a standard form factor and connections. Now, it's "infotainment" tied closely into the rest of the car, and will throw codes if you try to remove it. Aftermarket alternatives are less and less available as this stuff becomes more and more proprietary.

        DRM'ed internal buses in the car are also becoming a thing.

        Self-driving or not, this is coming.

        • Even normal, non-autonomous cars are becoming this way. It used to be it was easy to replace the vendor's radio system with your own using a standard form factor and connections. Now, it's "infotainment" tied closely into the rest of the car, and will throw codes if you try to remove it.

          Honestly, I actually believe that the integration of "infotainment" systems has more to do with resource-sharing cost and space savings than proprietary lock-in.

          I mean, how many REDUNDANT, separate displays and control-clusters do you need/can you fit in a frickin' CAR?

          Now I DO think that some industry-standards (sort of like CAN, for example) could help a lot; but then a "car stereo" would have to get much more complex (and thus more expensive) to be able to display/control arbitrary "automotive" funct

    • Case law has already been settled on this for cars decades ago. At some point the tech shops are going to have to follow suit, the pressure is there, just like it was for cars.
  • if it costs too much to repair the broken phones & gadgets will end up in a landfill and consumers will just buy new, but that is probably what the big corpirates had in mind anyway, those bastards are the kinds of bastards that killed Kenny
    • In the area of desktop PCs, the mantra of 'recycling' is already being used to rather aggressively transfer all 'used' computers out of local communities and into operations that dismantle and destroy them.

      My local Goodwill sells a lot of nice keyboards and mice. All the CPU boxes get scrapped by Dell. All that nice hardware, a lot of which would live a second life very well running Linux or a BSD operating system.

      • "All that nice hardware, a lot of which would live a second life very well running Linux or a BSD operating system."

        NO. All that old hardware uses way too much power. Almost any consumer PC before Core2Duo should be retired as a power hog and replaced with a SoC of some kind.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday June 19, 2016 @12:56PM (#52347561)

    If people wanted more repairable devices, they would have bought them.

    Instead consumers have, in droves, chosen to buy MORE RELIABLE sealed devices that they do not have to screw with.

    I'm not just talking about the iPhone, or the other Android phones that all followed suit. I'm talking about cars, about appliances, almost everything is more more contained, much better sealed, and much harder to repair.

    If the world wants more "repairable" things then by all means make them and ell them. But do not demand that companies ruin products in the pursuit of a goal few are interested in.

    • Ha ha ha ha "more reliable" ha ha ha ha. What on earth makes you think that reliability is the reason that companies put no-third-party-repair clauses in their contracts?
      • I added that wording specifically to draw in people like you so I could add in more information on that point.

        The fact is that all of my laptops with sealed batteries, all of my phones with sealed batteries, all modern cars I have owned have been MORE RELIABLE. They have had better battery life, and devices with sealed batteries have NEVER needed batteries replaced after years of service where all of my older devices with replaceable batteries had to have them replaced every six months to a year. I hated

    • by Kneo24 ( 688412 )
      Why do you equate the fact that they're sealed to them being more reliable? You can make a reliable device that can also be repaired on an as needed basis.
    • The usual all or nothing approach.

      Consumers haven't spoken because we didn't get a voice. We are presented with a wide range of irreparable devices to chose from. I vote with my wallet so ... move to an Amish community?

      As for reliability. That was a really good joke. Implying that you can have reliable or repairable but not both. Classic. You should do a stand-up gig, you'll raise the roof, only to have people break down and cry after when they remember the devices they had that lasted 10+ years without iss

    • by sootman ( 158191 )

      > Instead consumers have, in droves, chosen to buy MORE RELIABLE
      > sealed devices that they do not have to screw with... I'm talking about
      > cars, about appliances, almost everything is more more contained,
      > much better sealed, and much harder to repair.

      Except that most appliances I own, major or minor, from toasters to home AC units, are LESS reliable now than they were decades ago.

  • 1960s Warranty Laws (Score:5, Informative)

    by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Sunday June 19, 2016 @01:04PM (#52347597) Homepage Journal

    I'm a huge fan of EFF, iFixit, and other groups that supported and pushed this legislation. I hope my Monday morning quarterbacking isn't misconstrued. But I studied the USA's warranty and repair laws passed in the 1960s (Ralph Nader's origins), which were in response to Vance Packard's 1960 book "The Waste Makers". The allegations of "planned obsolescence" really alarmed people and led to the strongest car and electronics warranty laws in the world. Those laws are all completely out of date (predating software), but trying to start from scratch may be a tactical error.

    Today's repair advocates, are in the right place... but perhaps missing out by by not recruiting some Consumer Rights veterans. Maybe they could market this to the retired people who remember the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975 etc. Seniors who, replaced their own auto spark plugs, they tend to vote in high numbers and could have been sending a signal to legislators. The advocacy I saw for this Right to Repair law was promoted by a younger, cooler, Makerspace set, I didn't see many allies from Ralph Nader's generation. It would be hard to win funding of VA hospitals without marketing it to/through the war Veterans. Just my 2 cents.

  • by supernova87a ( 532540 ) <kepler1 @ h o tmail.com> on Sunday June 19, 2016 @01:17PM (#52347663)
    So -- anything that goes wrong with your iPhone, computer, etc. is required to be covered by a manufacturer issued repair guide that's available to the customer? Since when has that been required for anything you buy, even remotely? Not even your dumb refrigerator manufacturer is required to tell you how to fix it.

    And in what level of detail / remedy would it have to explain how to repair the item? My laptop's GPU has a few transistors that got fried. Are they saying Apple has to tell me how to disassemble the chip, do nanosurgery on it and refabricate a few layers of silicon? Or that "get a new laptop" is sufficient to fix the issue?

    Nice sentiment, but full of holes in how it would be implemented.
    • Your post is FUD, but I don't see any malice here. You just neglected to read he bill. It does not say what you think it says.
  • by Sebby ( 238625 ) on Sunday June 19, 2016 @01:20PM (#52347687)
    Given that these tech firms pushed to destroy this, the alternative should have been to mandate a minimum 3-year warranty (I'm looking at you, Apple!)
  • by SvnLyrBrto ( 62138 ) on Sunday June 19, 2016 @03:03PM (#52348157)

    We're not talking asinine BS like how the DMCA forbids you from modding your Playstation... on your own and with no interaction with, or aid from, Sony. Many of these laws place some very onerous requirements on the vendors.

    They require vendors to surrender internal documentation, designs, schematics, and procedures to pretty much any random un-vetted third party that wants them. This includes software patches and updates, and sometimes even private signing keys. Sometimes the vendor is required to let these people piggyback on their own parts and supplies chain, rather than have the repair shops establish their own supplier relationships. They usually abrogate the usual NDA requirements for third-party partners. And they almost always require all of that with no compensation.

    No company in their right mind would let that pass without fighting tooth and nail against it.

    • We're not talking asinine BS like how the DMCA forbids you from modding your Playstation... on your own and with no interaction with, or aid from, Sony. Many of these laws place some very onerous requirements on the vendors.

      They require vendors to surrender internal documentation, designs, schematics, and procedures to pretty much any random un-vetted third party that wants them. This includes software patches and updates, and sometimes even private signing keys. Sometimes the vendor is required to let these people piggyback on their own parts and supplies chain, rather than have the repair shops establish their own supplier relationships. They usually abrogate the usual NDA requirements for third-party partners. And they almost always require all of that with no compensation.

      No company in their right mind would let that pass without fighting tooth and nail against it.

      PRECISELY!

  • Instead of right to repair, the current warranty offerings (90 days) are more like the right to throw away when it breaks and purchase a new product.

    I can understand that some products due to their intricacy may be designed to not be serviceable by anyone but the manufacturer, but if that is the case, then a longer warranty period is justified to make up for the fact that it is unserviceable. I think the EU has the right idea with trading standards bureaus and statutory minimum warranty periods. (I will pro

  • ...aren't so Liberal, are they?

    • by hwstar ( 35834 )

      Liberal or Conservative doesn't matter when an industries bottom line is at stake. When this happens, the trade associations mobilize, and lobby the state legislature to trash the proposed bill. Money talks, and sensible legislation walks!

  • "Big Tech" sounds like the name of a bluetooth enabled sex toy.

There is no distinction between any AI program and some existent game.

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