"For the past four or five years, discussions around the so-called “right to repair” have followed a predictable cadence. iFixit or a thematically similar site will call for the passage of state or federal bill that would enshrine a consumer’s right to repair their own electronics. Said proposal is briefly discussed, iFixit releases a new round of reports showing how top-end gear from various companies remains difficult to repair (exactly how difficult varies by brand, manufacturer, and model year), everyone clucks their tongue and wishes US consumers bought hardware for reasons other than thinness, and then the entire cycle resets. Consumers continue buying the aforementioned devices and not much changes."
Washington State is hoping things are different this time around. Its new right-to-repair bill goes much further than most and outright bans the sale of electronics not designed to be easily user-repairable. Jeff Morris, the representative who introduced the bill, notes that it was written before Apple’s battery fiasco came to light (in separate news, Apple is now facing an SEC and DOJ investigation into its disclosure practices around its battery issues). “It was introduced before [the throttling] news broke, but that’s become something constituents and legislators have sunk their teeth into,” Morris told Motherboard. “They can say ‘this is what we’re talking about’ and point to this as the type of thing that is accelerating the demise of their technology so they have to buy the next model.”
Incidentally, this was always one of the more ironic risks of Apple’s bad battery decision-making. For years, there were rumors Apple made older devices run more poorly on purpose, to push users into upgrading. By creating its throttling program, Apple ironically put truth to years of rumors. Now its battery throttling program could be used to kickstart the type of laws the company has historically opposed.