Not again: Once again lobbyists from major tech corporations have halted legislation that would give Californians the right to repair their electronic devices. One proponent representing Apple brought an iPhone to meetings with legislators as a prop to point out how consumers could get hurt if they punctured the lithium-ion battery.
For the second year in a row, Apple lobbyists have stifled California’s attempts at a right-to-repair law. Last year, the Golden State introduced the California Right to Repair Act, which lobbyists for major tech corporations were able to block. Not wanting to give up, legislators reintroduced a the bill (AB 1163) in March of this year, and that effort has already been stymied.
According to Motherboard, Assembly members were scheduled to hold a hearing on Tuesday to vote on the legislation. Before the vote could be held, the bill was pulled by its sponsor Susan Talamantes-Eggman.
"Today I decided to pull Assembly Bill 1163 from consideration in the Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee, with the goal of moving the bill in January of next year."
“It became clear that the bill would not have the support it needed today, and manufacturers had sown enough doubt with vague and unbacked claims of privacy and security concerns,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.
According to sources within the California State Assembly, lobbyists from Apple and CompTIA met on more than one occasion with members of the Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee. In the meetings, the bill’s proponents showed the lawmakers internal components of an iPhone and urged them to nix the proposal for fear that consumers could hurt themselves if they punctured the battery during disassembly. The members requested to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
An appeal to public safety is a common tactic when trying to dissuade almost any type of legislation or regulation. The problem in this case is that Apple, and to be fair others like AT&T and Microsoft, are not only preventing the general public from repairing their devices, but also third-party professional repair techs who know what they are doing.
Fortunately, the fight is not over. Assembly bill 1163 has not been trashed. It has just been tabled until January 2020, when the assembly will bring it up for a vote once more. You can bet lobbyists will again try to intervene.