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.