HP, Apple, and other tech giants want to control who can repair devices — here's why

Samsung 980
Samsung 980 (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • A trade group that lobbies for HP, Apple, and others opposed a 'right to repair' law in Nevada.
  • The trade group argues that repairs from "unvetted third parties" can create security risks.
  • People who work at repair shops asked how fixing batteries or buttons creates a security risk.

HP and Apple are among the tech giants fighting against a "right to repair" bill in Nevada. TechNet, a trade group that lobbies for HP, Apple, Honeywell, and other manufacturers of devices, strongly opposed the right to repair legislation in a committee hearing in the Nevada Legislature on Monday. A report from the Associated Press runs through the highlights from the hearing (via iMore).

The hearing in the Nevada Legislature centers around if the government should require companies like HP and Apple to provide access to parts and schematics to independent shops. This would be in contrast to only sharing these with authorized dealers.

Right to repair bills are currently under consideration in 25 statehouses, as highlighted by the AP. They are based in part on an initiative that passed in Massachusetts last year.

The proposed bill in Nevada would apply to consumer electronic devices worth less than $5,000, which applies to almost all consumer phones, tablets, and computers.

Assemblywoman Selena Torres argues that the right to repair devices will help organizations maintain equipment:

Early in the pandemic, a nationwide laptop shortage left millions of students unprepared for virtual learning. As an educator I saw firsthand how families struggled to share one device with several school-aged children. The right to repair will give schools and other institutions the information they need to maintain equipment and empower the refurbished computer market, saving taxpayer dollars and improving digital access.

TechNet's regional executive director Cameron Demetre argues that "unvetted third parties" having access to people's devices creates "the potential for troubling unintended consequences, including serious adverse security, privacy and safety risks."

As a counter to Demetre's point, repair businesses have asked how fixing a battery or the buttons on a smartphone creates a security risk.

"It's changed from being able to do anything you want to repair your computer or printer to 'You can't do anything now,' said Technology Center in Sparks' Curtis Jones. "Everything's changed to being disposable or impossible to repair."

Jones explains that not having access to parts and schematics could lead to people moving to replace devices rather than repairing them. Jones said, "We're going to have landfills so overloaded, we're going to have to start living on top of old printers or computers."

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

  • While disappointing, this is hardly surprising. I've had to repair a broken fan five times in three years on my HP Spectre x360. Even though it needed repaired twice within my one-year warranty I had to fight HP to get my warranty extended by 6 months. After the warranty expired they said it'd be $150 to repair. I've bought the part twice on ebay for $6 each. Even with shipping that means they're probably netting $110 per repair for their own unreliable design. With profit margins like that, why would they want to let the user do it?
  • That's the least-surprising news I've heard in a while. Apple does everything it can to make repairs nearly impossible to anyone but a certified Apple tech, and even THEY have to accept hardships (proprietary, expensive machines to pair components to the device, likely agreeing to refuse certain things regarding data recovery/types of repairs, overpriced, single-sourced parts solutions) to get into Apple's good graces. HP can kick rocks though. Those fools made a laptop with a chassis built around LEATHER (heat dissipation? What's that?). I'm typing this from an Envy x360 and the chassis has some OK traits, but it mostly isn't very good. They make crappy devices and have terrible customer support, and I'd never recommend them to anyone not getting them at a massive discount. I only picked it up because I wanted a Ryzen-based laptop and it was the only option on the market at the time, but I'd replace it in a heartbeat if a Ryzen 5000 offering came about. Screw both of these companies, they suck.
  • You give list of pieces to repair without problem of security.
    Or you accept this profession.
    It's Apple and Hp to say if there are problem in security for repair devices ?
    No, it's business first.
  • If the bill passes manufacturers will likely do what they've already been doing and making products damn near impossible to repair on the fly, it's the only way to get around it for them. As an aside, you guys really need an ACCC over there, someone looking out for the consumer over the company.
  • It's high time for consumers and enterprise customers to tell OEMs that don't support right to repair that their devices will no longer be purchased. As it's not cost effective for the consumer or enterprise to fork out for new laptops because it's impossible to repair. Plus it's not doing the environment any good either.. sooner or later e-waste will reach a point that toxins will impact the water table at a global scale.