Illinois is one of 18 states where Right to Repair legislation has been introduced — rules that would force manufacturers to end the practice of undermining the independent repair sector with hidden service documents, unavailable parts, and DRM.
Manufacturers hate the idea of losing their monopolies over service and support; they've systematically targeted the state legislatures to kill this legislation. In the latest salvo, Dyson, LG, and Wahl sent nearly identical letters to the Illinois legislature making ridiculous, FUDdy claims about the reason it's better for their customers if no one except the original manufacturer is allowed to repair their products.
I'm one of the many people cited in Jason Koebler's Motherboard story on the inanity of these letters.
Serious security experts disagree with the notion that fair repair bills will somehow make us less secure, however. Digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, for example, supports right to repair legislation and also has a long history of vouching for default encryption and other cybersecurity protections. Cory Doctorow, a special advisor to the EFF, told me that companies are using right to repair as a scapegoat for generally bad security practices across the internet-connected appliances sector.
"The theory that only original manufacturers are qualified to secure their products is wrong on its face. The past decade has seen a steadily mounting tempo of ever-more-ghastly defects in the software in devices by all kinds of manufacturers—anonymous Chinese white-label firms, Fortune 100s, and everyone in between—with the firms flubbing their responses to greater or lesser extent," Doctorow said. "Third-party patches, repair, service, and upgrades are critical to the security process—they provide immediate relief for consumers who are at risk from security defects, and discipline firms so they provide timely, comprehensive security updates."
Julian Sanchez, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute specializing in technology and security, told me "you don't need me to tell you security through obscurity is bad security."
Appliance Companies Are Lobbying to Protect Their DRM-Fueled Repair Monopolies [Jason Koebler/Motherboard]