Apple is fighting legislation that would let you repair your own iPhone

Key Points
  • Apple, Johnson & Johnson, the Consumer Technology Association, Lexmark, Toyota, Verizon are lobbying against the Fair Repair Act in New York.
  • The act would require digital product makers to release repair guides.
  • Consumers who currently repair devices themselves face voiding warranties.
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc.
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Apple is one of a number of companies lobbying to kill a new New York bill that would force companies to release information that would make it easier for customers and third-party shops to repair consumer goods.

The lobbying efforts were first uncovered by Motherboard. Other companies involved in the effort to thwart the proposed "Fair Repair Act" include Johnson & Johnson Controls, the Consumer Technology Association, Lexmark, Toyota, Verizon and others.

The bill seeks to "amend the general business law, in relation to the sale of digital electronic equipment diagnostic and repair information," and specifically calls on manufacturers "who operate and sell in New York State to make available diagnostic and repair information for digital electronic parts and machines."

It would allow third parties, and even consumers, to easily access the information required to repair devices on their own, instead of having to pay the original manufacturer for a repair.

Apple has a reason to try to do so. The company sells its AppleCare+ insurance to customers, who can then visit an Apple Store to have a device repaired by professional staff. If you crack your iPhone screen and have it repaired elsewhere — perhaps because it's cheaper to do so — you risk voiding your warranty if damage is done to other components during the process.

There's a reason why Apple and other companies are opposed to third-party repair, however.

Third-party companies may not replace parts with those of the same quality offered by the manufacturer. A shop on the corner in New York City, for example, may use a very cheap replacement screen to fix a cracked iPhone, instead of one of Apple's more premium screens. By keeping repairs in-house and under warranty, Apple and other companies can guarantee a level of quality assurance.

Motherboard said that the Digital Right to Repair Coalition is fighting on behalf of the bill and has spent $5,042 lobbying in its favor, while a conglomerate of firms has lobbied against it, spending $366,634 to date. Apple alone is paying a $9,000 a month retainer for a lobbying firm named Roffe Group, Motherboard said.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.