A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report on “anti-competitive repair restrictions” specifically calls Apple for a number of practices that impede repairs by independent workshops.
The FTC says repair restrictions hurt both consumers and small businesses, and calls for a combination of new right to repair laws and better enforcement of existing laws.
The FTC began collecting evidence from consumers and businesses almost two years ago after Congress asked it to do so.
The report’s findings, including the fact that “there is little evidence to support manufacturers’ justifications for the repair restrictions”, are primarily based on responses to requests for public comment and for empirical research from the Commission published in as part of his July 2019 workshop, “Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions.” “
The report says repair companies are denied work when companies make products difficult to repair and consumers lose out because some products are impossible or unprofitable to repair, while other repairs cost much more. than they should.
One example given is Apple’s requirements for its authorized independent repair shop program.
The contract says repair technicians can be subject to “unannounced Apple audits and inspections” … And if independent repair shops leave the program, the contract actually includes a term that gives Apple the right to “continue to operate.” inspect repair shops for five years ”. after the end.
Apple also restricts access to service manuals and has issued copyright takedown notices when they are posted online.
Making battery replacement difficult and expensive will likely cause consumers to choose to replace the entire product instead, resulting in additional costs and bad for the environment.
The Anticompetitive Repair Restrictions report also criticizes Apple for binding components to the motherboard, which can make repairs unprofitable.
Software locks, digital rights management (“DRM”) tools or technological protection measures (TPM) are access control technologies implemented by OEMs. While manufacturers say these measures are necessary to protect proprietary material and copyrighted technologies, repair advocates argue such tactics prevent ISOs and consumers from basic repairs. Embedded software may require consumers to have their products serviced and repaired through manufacturers’ authorized service networks. Additionally, according to iFixit, “If you replace your iPhone screen even though it is a brand new OEM screen on another identical iPhone, some features like TrueTone will not work properly.
McDonough explained that Apple synchronizes some parts of the iPhone with the device’s motherboard, making the part serviceable only by Apple.
This last question is delicate. Apple associates some components with logic boards for security reasons (for example, Touch ID buttons on older devices). Integrated components also allow for slimmer devices. More importantly, better integration of RAM and storage with the processor can dramatically improve a device’s performance.
Macs with M1 are the best example of this, where the performance they deliver is only possible with such tight integration, to the point where RAM and SSD storage essentially becomes interchangeable. Apple makes a trade-off between repairability and performance, and it’s a trade-off that most professionals and many consumers are willing to make.
The FTC says it will support state and federal law enforcement action and additional right to redress legislation.
To deal with illegal repair restrictions, the FTC will pursue appropriate law enforcement and regulatory options, as well as consumer education, in accordance with our statutory authority. The Commission is also ready to work with lawmakers, at state or federal level, to ensure that consumers have a choice when it comes to repairing the products they buy and own.
A 2018 reader poll showed mixed opinions on the subject – it will be interesting to see if the Mac M1s have changed their minds. Please take our new survey and share your thoughts in the comments.
Photo by Anton Maksimov juvnsky on Unsplash
FTC: We use automatic income generating affiliate links. After.
Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more information on Apple: