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Apple may oppose a law that would let iPhone buyers repair their own phones

Why it matters to you

Apple may prevent you from your own iPhone repair if it proceeds to block legislation.

Legislation that would give phone buyers and third-party repairers the legal right to purchase spare parts is under fire from iPhone maker Apple, which claims the so-called “right to repair” would put consumers at risk. The company’s lawyers will formally oppose a Nebraska bill under consideration that would allow consumers to repair their own phones.

That is according to a Motherboard report claiming that an Apple “representative, staffer, or lobbyist” will testify against the bill. One of the arguments it is considering deals with the danger of lithium batteries, according to the publication’s sources.

Nebraska is one of eight states — the others include Minnesota, Massachusetts, Kansas, and Wyoming, Illinois, and Tennessee — considering the passage of “right to repair” bills, thanks in large part to aggressive lobbying. Repair.org, a trade organization of independent shops which argue they’ve been harmed by monopolizing manufacturers, hopes that by getting a single state to pass a right-to-repair bill will pressure manufacturers to cede the legal point.

It cites the car industry as precedent: “In 2012, a Massachusetts law guaranteeing the right to repair automobiles became de-facto national legislation after car manufacturers decided to comply with the law nationwide rather than continue to fight burgeoning legislation in other states.”

But Repair.org’s efforts have so far proven unsuccessful. Apple and computing behemoth IBM played a role in shutting down a similar bill in New York. Last year, industry lobbyists told lawmakers in Minnesota that broken glass could cut the fingers of consumers who try to repair their screens. Tractor manufacturer John Deere opposed the Kansas effort in a vehement letter to legislators, arguing that such bills could result in “unintended alterations” and damage “consumers’ significant investment in equipment.”

That said, there appears to be a growing appetite for right-to-repair legislation nationwide. In January, the American Farm Bureau Federation, an influential political organization representing farmers, officially endorsed the legislation.

Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of Repair.org, dismissed manufacturers’ criticism of the proposed bills. “They should want to give people as much information about how to deal with a hazardous thing as they can,” Gordon-Byrne said. “If they’re concerned about exploding batteries, put warning labels on them and tell consumers how to replace them safely.”