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Government Iphone Apple IT

Washington Bill Makes It Illegal To Sell Gadgets Without Replaceable Batteries (vice.com) 384

Jason Koebler writes: A bill that would make it easier to fix your electronics is rapidly hurtling through the Washington state legislature. The bill's ascent is fueled by Apple's iPhone-throttling controversy, which has placed a renewed focus on the fact that our electronics have become increasingly difficult to repair.

Starting in 2019, the bill would ban the sale of electronics that are designed "in such a way as to prevent reasonable diagnostic or repair functions by an independent repair provider. Preventing reasonable diagnostic or repair functions includes permanently affixing a battery in a manner that makes it difficult or impossible to remove."

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Washington Bill Makes It Illegal To Sell Gadgets Without Replaceable Batteries

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  • by kqc7011 ( 525426 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @11:21AM (#56007261)
    What's "reasonable"?
    • Re: wording (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The problem with complex issues are that they're require even more complex language to establish surrounding rules.

      Both sides play upon this matter but the fact is, the consumer typically loses these arguments against armies of corporate lawyers.

      • Re: wording (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bigwheel ( 2238516 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @11:46AM (#56007495)

        From TFS: "Preventing reasonable diagnostic or repair functions includes permanently affixing a battery in a manner that makes it difficult or impossible to remove."

        There is some ambiguity, but the intent seems pretty obvious.

        IMO, this legislation is something we've needed for a long time. Musical birthday cards should get a pass. But expensive consumer electronics should not be treated as disposable items.

        • Re: wording (Score:5, Funny)

          by Gr8Apes ( 679165 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @11:52AM (#56007553)

          Musical birthday cards should get a pass.

          If this legislation causes the end of musical birthday cards, it would be the most effective law passed this year.

          • Re: wording (Score:5, Funny)

            by FatdogHaiku ( 978357 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @12:15PM (#56007793)
            But with replaceable batteries musical birthday cards could enter a whole NEW ERA!!!
            With e-ink, cards could be used many times. Just think of changing the cover art to a new JPG or even GIF. Next we allow the card licensee to sing and record or buy downloaded music from the card store. Of course your card will have internet access to assure no pirated content was used in the "redeployment" of the card... can't have you singing any Stevie Wonder hits without paying for them. But you could piggyback on the Internet of Cards by placing current sports scores or a favorite news feed on the back or even inside.
            Sure, in awhile Apple will produce the Must Have iCards (and change them every six months) but two thirds of us can just keep handing the same cards back and forth every year.

            /sarcasm (I Hope)
          • by mspohr ( 589790 )

            I have replaced batteries in a musical birthday card. It wasn't easy but my granddaughter loved it until the batteries ran down so I replaced them. Yes, it was irritating but worth it for the dancing hamster.

        • Re: wording (Score:5, Insightful)

          by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @11:57AM (#56007607)

          From TFS: "Preventing reasonable diagnostic or repair functions includes permanently affixing a battery in a manner that makes it difficult or impossible to remove."

          There is some ambiguity, but the intent seems pretty obvious.

          Uh, no it's not, and this won't change a damn thing. Using the term "independent repair provider" even dictates that repairs will still not be something an end-user is authorized or allowed to do, and implies that consumers will still have to pay someone to change out a battery. No one "repairs" a battery, they get replaced, which is all consumers are asking for. We used to have removable batteries. Greed infected design, and now we do not.

          Enough of the ambiguity. Enough of the bullshit. Word it in black and white terms. Electronic devices with rechargeable batteries should be designed in such a way that they are easily replaceable by the end user. See? It's not hard to remove the ambiguity and put a stop to relentless greed that continues to fuck over the consumer.

          • by Khyber ( 864651 )

            "No one "repairs" a battery"

            Bullshit. I repair lead-acid car batteries all the time.

            • "No one "repairs" a battery"

              Bullshit. I repair lead-acid car batteries all the time.

              I wasn't talking about lead-acid batteries. I wasn't even talking about EV battery replacement.

              We both know what this bill is targeting, which is where 90% of the problem lies; handheld electronic devices.

              • This is slashdot; no matter how pedantically you qualify your statements, there's always 'that guy'. Sometimes I'm that guy... but not today.
          • by pots ( 5047349 )
            The "independent" in "independent repair provider" does imply that end-users should not require authorization, otherwise they would not be independent. Ability is another question, and where you say "easily replaceable by the end user" you're putting some unnecessary limits on design. How many end-users are really comfortable with changing a CMOS battery in an average desktop? I don't think all desktops need to be designed with externally accessible battery compartments. I guess that wouldn't count for your
          • Re: wording (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Dixie_Flatline ( 5077 ) <vincent DOT jan DOT goh AT gmail DOT com> on Friday January 26, 2018 @12:45PM (#56008097) Homepage

            What's the threshold for 'easily'?

            Like, without tools? That means all our phones will be bulky again. I don't want a phone like that. I hated that design, and I'll continue to hate it. I don't mind the possibility that I'll have to take my phone into a shop so someone can disassemble it and pop in a new battery any more than I mind taking my car into the shop so I can have something repaired. If I wanted to learn how to do those things, I would, and indeed, I can. iFixit makes kits so you can do it yourself, and people do it.

            So I don't know that your wording makes it any better, except to possibly require companies to make phones that I feel are terrible by design.

            I get that we don't agree on the design angle, but I don't want it legislated out of existence.

            • Re: wording (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @01:19PM (#56008439) Homepage

              A few years ago, my son's android tablet was having battery issues. It was 2 years old so the vendor wasn't supporting it. They offered to take it for about $60, examine it, and let me know what was happening to it. Then, I could choose to fix it (for more money though they "graciously" would deduct that $60 initial payment from the cost) or I could have it sent back. They couldn't guarantee that it wouldn't arrive back factory reset with all of my son's game data erased.

              I found the battery online for about $15 and tools to do the repair for about another $10. Unfortunately, I needed to use the tools to pry the case open and I just couldn't get it done. I went to a repair shop and they were able to pry it open and replace the battery with the one I bought for $25. Even though I "wasted" money on the tools, I still got the tablet fixed for less than what the manufacturer wanted.

            • Re: wording (Score:4, Informative)

              by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Saturday January 27, 2018 @07:06PM (#56016957)

              Define "bulky"?

              Lumia 950XL : 8.1 mm 3350 user serviceable mah battery
              iPhone X : 7.7 mm 2750 permanent battery

              I also get to mix up the design of my phone with new backings without adding any bulk like a phone case adds.

              0.4mm is 4 sheets of paper.

            • by sjames ( 1099 )
              Most cell phones are bulky now. It's just that they come incomplete. First you buy the razor thin phone because it's stylish, then you buy the bulky protective cover so you don't break it when you sneeze.

              But I imagine it's fine if you just need a commonly available small screwdriver.

          • Re: wording (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @01:26PM (#56008509) Journal

            which is all consumers are asking for.

            I'm assuming you're basically talking about Cell Phones, if you are not, please take the rest as issues I have with this law anyways.

            1) If Consumers DEMANDED replaceable batteries in phones (or other devices) they would be BUYING them. If your choice was between iPhone 8 and something like an LG V20, they would abandon iPhones for LG. The problem is, that they want an iPhone first, battery second. THEY made the choice, and voted with their money. If Apple was losing BILLIONS to people who WANT removable batteries as a PRIMARY feature, they would make an iPhone with Removable Battery.

            2)If Consumers DEMANDED replaceable batteries over other features like Water Proof/Resistant devices, then they would be BUYING them. Since it is makes devices MORE expensive to have WaterProof and Replaceable batteries than one or the other, and people are choosing lesser expensive single option devices (Waterproof, no replaceable battery vs replaceable battery and don't drop in the pool) the the market has spoken.

            3) In almost ALL categories, there ARE options for having those features, while giving up others, and the relative price points for each are such that the Market is making cost/feature analysis as part of their buying choices is already available.

            Conclusion: A law like the one proposes removes choice and replaces it with draconian rules that the Market has ALREADY rejected with the voting dollars. This is the problem with the whole "There ought to be a law" people, is that they want what they want, but are UNWILLING to do it for themselves. This is the choice of the Consumer, not the state.

        • Re: wording (Score:4, Insightful)

          by phayes ( 202222 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @12:02PM (#56007667) Homepage

          So, Lawmakers from Washington have outlawed Microsoft's entire Surface line. I'm sure Microsoft will be thrilled.

        • Re: wording (Score:4, Insightful)

          by rogoshen1 ( 2922505 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @12:14PM (#56007769)

          i dunno, i'd rather government take a step back from directly interfering in how companies design and market their products -- obviously with health, safety, and fraud concerns withstanding.

          With regulations like this where does it end? It sucks that 'voting with your dollars' doesn't really work when all the manufacturers pull the same shenanigans; but having mommy government step in to dictate these things is an even worse idea. It's feel good legislation at its finest, but real world consequences intended or not are being ignored.

          • by nasch ( 598556 )

            Stores in Vancouver BC and Portland OR are going to LOVE this thing if it passes.

            • by Vrallis ( 33290 )

              However, if the tech companies comply, WA businesses will dominate the online sales market (at least until the 'WA models' become more widespread).

        • by CODiNE ( 27417 )

          Musical birthday cards should get a pass

          Did they start putting epoxy on those coin cell batteries? I used to take those cards apart and make Red Boxes out of them... in altoids tins of course.

        • Re: wording (Score:5, Funny)

          by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @01:13PM (#56008375) Journal
          I have yet to encounter a product that could not be disassembled, or a battery that cannot be removed. The product may not work AFTER disassembly, but it can be disassembled.
    • Re:wording (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @11:32AM (#56007351) Homepage Journal

      What's "reasonable"?

      Yep, it is that kind of very vague language in law (especially more and more in today's laws coming thought State and Federal), that are so broadly worded, that it can cause problems, some in VERY distinct ways.

      Another example of this, is the ATF about to redo regulations that pretty much define "machine" gun which is written as law. They are about to basically make new law (saving our congress critters from actually having to go on record and vote)....but essentially, they are being pressured into going after bump stocks.

      The problems is, they aren't specifically mentioning bump stocks or precisely defining them. They are trying to broadly work it as "any device that increases the rate of fire". Well for one thing, there is not defined base level of "rate of fire".

      That could mean ANY modification to a semi-auto weapon, like just putting in a lighter trigger for competition shooting...that allows you to increase your rate of fire. Hell, your finger could be considered a problem, in that it is pretty easy to hold an AR loosely enough to let the recoil hit your finger quickly and fire like you can with a bump stock..

      To that note...high capacity magazines could come under fire, in that having larger capacities allow you to fire faster since you don't have to change more often.

      That's just one example....but we need to force our legislators to quit working laws so broadly. Make them more precise, and when a new thing comes along, rather than trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole, come up with a new damned law, or pass real legislation to change things.

      Don't just word it broadly, and then allow some UNELECTED bureaucratic enforcement agency define what things are.

      Just because you may like it one way, doesn't mean it won't come to bite you in the ass on another topic you do care about.

      • Re:wording (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 26, 2018 @11:55AM (#56007583)

        The bill literally contains 20 lines spent defining "fair and reasonable". Can you elaborate on why you consider it "vague".

    • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
      "Reasonable diagnostic or repair functions by an independent repair provider" to me implies that your typical Joe doesn't have to be capable of doing it, but if you take it along to a suitablely equipped store they can do so for a nominal fee without damage to any additional parts other than easily replaceable on-time-snap-fix connectors. Basically, that's going to mean an end to simply replacing a proper chassis with glue, but after that it's all down to the interpretation of the letter and spirit of the
    • There is a well established standard around the word 'reasonable' in common law:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • Hey, Slashdotters, stop bitching about "reasonable". The US Constitution uses the term "due process" for the 5th and 14th amendments. Yeah, wish that were a little less vague, but it kind of works.

      That said, Damn you Apple for establishing this throw-away electronics mentality. Yes, people want thin, but my cheap and thin Moto G4 Play has a removable battery.

      Good for you WA State. Hope it works

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      On older the battery could be swapped by the user in seconds. Come back to that please!

    • What's "reasonable"?

      That will be adjudicated, when necessary. Which is sensible.

      E.g. what about some one-off cheap $1 toy? Is selling that illegal without an easily replaceable battery? There are going to be edge cases.

      • by hawk ( 1151 )

        It is *far* more important that selling such toys without a volume control be recognized as a crime against humanity than that the (^&*(&Y battery be replaceable . . .

        hawk

    • I can agree with sentiment. The battery in an iPhone is replaceable. On my iPhone you just remove 2 screws and then pry the glass front off. The battery is right there to be unplugged and replaced. Maybe not something that everyone would feel confident doing -- but the "phone repair guy" in the Mall can do it "cheap."

      That sounds reasonable to me.

  • Cars not included (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dallas May ( 4891515 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @11:29AM (#56007327)
    "NEW SECTION. Sec. 5. (1) Nothing in this section applies to 30 motor vehicle manufacturers, any product or service of a motor 31 vehicle manufacturer, or motor vehicle dealers." Cars and tractors are still not included. Still got to go through the dealer for service.
    • by hawk ( 1151 )

      Yes, not being able to replace my car battery without paying a dealer has been *so* much hassle in my life.

      (OK, I'll grant that 80s and 90s front drive Cadillacs are a pain, as you have to take off a bar or a plate to get it out [or even lift the back seat on the Deville!])

      hawk

  • Yeah, good luck with that. "reasonable"...ie: politicians way of telling the unwashed masses, that we did something, but on the other hand giving a wink & a nod to their business buddies that "we slickered em again".
  • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @11:34AM (#56007379)

    The last time this came up on Slashdot, the objection to forcing replaceable batteries was that having fixed batteries allows for unusual battery shapes and less concern regarding seals so that engineers can design thinner phones.

    You know what? Not good enough. If it's so important to have such a thin phone, then the manufacturers need to be required by law to take back their product at the end of its life cycle and REcycle.

    I'd argue this would be an expensive but good idea anyway, because 'the environment' isn't just a thing for tree-huggers, we all need it.

    • If it's so important to have such a thin phone, then the manufacturers need to be required by law to take back their product at the end of its life cycle and REcycle.

      They are required to where I live.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You're not smart enough to make an informed decision yourself!

    You can't decide whether a completely waterproof design is worth having a non-replaceable battery!

    We're the government! And we know what's best for you!

    Now, pay a ludicrous tax on your soda [marketwatch.com], and no, you can't have a drinking straw! [latimes.com]

  • Try easily replacing the battery in an iPhone, iPad, Kindle, MacBook, etc.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      I can do an iPhone in about 10 minutes. I'm sure someone who does it regularly could do it in 5. Seems easy enough.

      • "I can do an iPhone in about 10 minutes. I'm sure someone who does it regularly could do it in 5. Seems easy enough."

        'Easy' would be 5 seconds, not minutes.

    • by hipp5 ( 1635263 )

      Try easily replacing the battery in an iPhone, iPad, Kindle, MacBook, etc.

      I don't think it will affect tech design tooooo much. While TFA picked up on the battery part, the thrust of the bill is more about compelling OEMs to supply the necessary information and parts to enable independent repair shops to fix things. I.e. to not exclude competition by hoarding information and parts. So I think the test of "reasonableness" of repair would really be framed in the context of, "is it designed such that it is reasonable for a trained, professional, and informed private repair shop to d

    • Try easily replacing the battery in an iPhone, iPad, Kindle, MacBook, etc.

      I-phones are easy, Kindles are too, I've done both multiple times.. Never tied any of the rest. Seriously, replacing a battery in an I-Phone may LOOK daunting, but it's not that hard.

    • Other things that have difficult to remove batteries:

      Laptop battery modules (not just Apple's, but every manufacturer)
      Electric hand tools (drills, saws, etc)
      Rechargable battery packs (think ANKER)
      Electric shavers
      That little BB-8 remote control toy.

      It's not that the batteries are glued in those devices, but sometimes you can't even open them without destroying the case. Many times, they just have a plain old 18650 in there anyway.
  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @11:46AM (#56007491)
    I want an iPhone that runs on AA batteries. It will run for days and recharge by just replacing the batteries.
    • I want an iPhone that runs on AA batteries. It will run for days and recharge by just replacing the batteries.

      You and Apple...

      No way you are getting enough power from a stack of AA batteries you'd be wiling to carry around that rivals the internal battery in an I-phone.

      • by nasch ( 598556 )

        No way you are getting enough power from a stack of AA batteries you'd be wiling to carry around that rivals the internal battery in an I-phone.

        Energizer makes 3000 mAh AA batteries. That's in the same range as a cell phone battery. So the power is there, but voltage is another matter. These are 1.5 volt like any other AA battery so you'd probably need 2-4 to supply enough voltage, which would, as jfdavis indicated, last for days.

        https://www.amazon.com/Energiz... [amazon.com]

    • by phayes ( 202222 )

      Presumably you also want a Microsoft Surface 3 times as thick so that you can use AA batteries as well.

  • by dfn5 ( 524972 )
    I do miss the Nextel. On my desk I had a line of batteries and chargers. Just pop in a new one. Instant recharge.
  • I know it's going to be difficult to quantify what's "reasonable" and who knows what else, but I like the looks of this. More and more products are becoming disposable and this is quite frankly unsustainable.
  • Normally I am not all about passing all kinds of additional laws, but we should have the right to repair our own devices, especially if we are capable of doing it. Apple is not the only bad guy here. I can name ZTE, LG, and Samsung as also guilty of this.
  • "...Original manufacturers of digital electronic products sold on or after January 1, 2019, in Washington state are prohibited from designing or manufacturing digital electronic products in such a way as to prevent reasonable diagnostic or repair functions by an independent repair provider. Preventing reasonable diagnostic or repair functions includes permanently affixing a battery in a manner that makes it difficult or impossible to remove...."

    None of the phone makers do this. As it is now, their batte
  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @12:14PM (#56007777)
    Are Ink cartridges next? Come on, HP/Cannon/Brother et all, cannot seriously think those things cost that much to make.... Shall we make it illegal to create a printer that detects third party or refilled cartridges and refuses to use them?
  • Hopefully laptops are included too.
  • by e r ( 2847683 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @12:21PM (#56007871)
    I agree that all devices should be repairable (by the end user, even!).
    But this should not be law.
    It should be up to the customers to decide what devices they want and with what features or anti-features.
    Because innovation is always a trade off: want a slim phone? Well you'll have to sacrifice some durability to get it etc..
    So it should be up to the customers to decide what a good trade off is.
    • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @12:51PM (#56008159) Homepage
      Unfortunately, the choice that you say you advocate is being removed so that you can no longer choose. So if the corporations are going to force a bad choice upon me, I would rather the government force them into giving me the good choice. I would rather not have this regulation at all. But the corporations always bring it upon themselves. If they don't like it, they shouldn't abuse their position.
  • What's needed is a set of standard batteries, to be able to independently buy/replace batteries from any vendor. The batteries of the LG G3 and LG G4 are basically the same (same voltage, same amperage), but the form factors differ by a millimeter or two, making them impossible to exchange.
  • Cars and dealer only software what will this bill do to that?

  • A foolish idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It took me about 15 minutes to replace an "unreplaceable" iphone battery and the kit came with all the tools for 25USD.

    It's fine if you don't like it. Just don't buy it. Why are Americans so bent on needing laws to prohibit anything they don't like even if they're not subject to it?

    Also note, this law does nothing to the auto industry. My understanding from all the voices chattering on about owners' rights is that they're the prime offenders. So why is this getting high praise? A phone with a reasonably rep

  • ridiculous (Score:4, Interesting)

    by guygo ( 894298 ) on Friday January 26, 2018 @12:41PM (#56008077)
    " the bill would ban the sale of electronics that are designed "in such a way as to prevent reasonable diagnostic or repair functions by an independent repair provider." Would that include all the Home Theater equipment out there that is designed to be thrown away, not repaired? I have been repiaring audio gear for over 40 years. Since the advent of Home Theater scenarios, most of the junk available is not worth repairing, even if it CAN be repaired. Will that be covered under the bill?

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"

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