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OPLIN 4Cast #723: The fight over ‘right to repair’ ramps up

Posted in 4cast

Last updated on November 24, 2020

My teenaged son loves to tinker with things, and has been amazing at repairing just about anything–appliances, drones, computers–since he was small. He is currently the only kid in his high school who is allowed to help the district fix school-issued Chromebooks and also works on repairing their 3D printers. It’s an amazing talent, inherited from my own father, now a retired electrical engineer, who scorned manuals for his entire life and is still fixing cars into his eighties. Either of them can likely repair just about anything, given the tools and the opportunity.

It’s that last bit that’s become the kicker–not everything is even allowed to be repaired. The “right to repair” movement has been around for a while, but it’s gaining steam as more people want to be able to fix things they own.

  • As Cars Get Smarter, Massachusetts Voters May Shape Their Future [Wired] “At the core of the issue is the not-insignificant question of what expanded access to wireless car data might look like and how secure that is. It’s not just a question of who can repair a car and access the data, but who owns the data in the first place. “
  • Apple blocks Right to Repair by making it impossible to replace the iPhone 12 camera module [MS Power User] “Apple has advanced their anti-Right to Repair crusade even further with the iPhone 12, according to Hugh Jeffreys, who discovered Apple has added the camera module to the list of items which are non-replaceable by 3rd party technicians.  This list already includes the FaceID module (on security grounds) and battery (on safety grounds).”
  • Fix, or Toss? The ‘Right to Repair’ Movement Gains Ground [NY Times] “The goal of right-to-repair rules, advocates say, is to require companies to make their parts, tools and information available to consumers and repair shops in order to keep devices from ending up in the scrap heap. They argue that the rules restrict people’s use of devices that they own and encourage a throwaway culture by making repairs too difficult.”
  • Here’s Why You Should Care About ‘Right To Repair’ [Autoweek] “Like with autos, if you don’t have a computer to plug into the tractor to diagnose what’s going on, you’re stuck in a field waiting for a technician to come out from the dealer.”

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