Lawmakers pitch 'right to repair' bill

MN lawmakers join 'right to repair' fight

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - If you'd like to get a rise out of Carl Wilcoxon, ask him about one of the Apple laptops on which he's working.

“It feels like they don't want me to do my job,” Wilcoxon says.

No manuals, no codes, no Apple parts available to the technician at Tech Dump in Golden Valley.

Just the way Apple wants it.

State Senator John Marty of Roseville thinks it’s time for a change. “It's basically putting small repair shops out of business then.”

Marty is a co-author of a so-called “right to repair” bill that would require tech manufacturers to sell parts, special tools and service manuals to independent shops - the same way automobile manufacturers do.

“They're finding ways to keep their fingers on your machine,” Marty says. 

Marty is a Democrat. His co-sponsor is Republican State Senator David Osmek of Mound.

“If I want to take my car to a different repair shop I have a right to do that, it's my car,” says Osmek. “This is a freedom for you to take your equipment or repair it yourself.”

Both senators say the lack of lower priced repair competition is sending stacks of devices to tech graveyards.

Brian Bernhardt, Tech Dump’s general manager of reuse, says tech companies like Apple have put consumers in a box. “If you have one place to go with your laptop, you're going to pay whatever price it is that they want to charge you.”

As one example, Bernhardt points to an iPad battery on a Tech Dump workbench.  He attempts to pry the battery from the device, but breaks it in the process.  He blames the adhesive Apple used.

“You could easily build a metal bracket with screws to hold the battery. There's absolutely no reason to use adhesive other than to make it difficult,” Bernhardt says.

KARE 11 left a message with Apple’s media department, which has not been returned. The electronic device industry has lobbied against “Right to Repair” bills in Minnesota and other states claiming they could subject manufacturers to theft of their proprietary information.

Similar legislation has been introduced in several states, but none has passed it.

© 2017 KARE-TV


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