"right to repair"

Debullshitifying the Right to Repair excuses Apple sent to Congress

Apple's response to the Congressional committee investigating monopolistic behavior by tech giants contains a chapter on Right to Repair, whose greatest enemy is Apple -- the company led successful campaigns to kill 20 state level Right to Repair bills last year. Read the rest

Mozilla updates its "Privacy Not Included" gift guide for 2019

As with last year, the Mozilla Foundation's privacy researchers have produced a guide to electronic gifts called "Privacy Not Included," which rates gadgets on a "creepiness" scale, with devices like the Sonos One SL dumb "smart speaker" (Sonos ripped out all the junk that isn't about playing music) getting top marks, and Ring Security Cams, Nest Cams, Amazon Echos, and other cam/mic-equipped gadgets coming in as "Super Creepy!" (the exclamation point is part of the rating). Read the rest

Without right to repair, the military can't fix its own battlefield equipment

Captain Elle Ekman is a US Marine Corps logistics officer; in a New York Times op-ed, she describes how the onerous conditions imposed by manufacturers on the US armed forces mean that overseas troops are not permitted to fix their own mission-critical gear, leaving them stranded and disadvantaged. Read the rest

When the company that made your prosthetic feet won't repair them

Erin Ehm's insurance company will buy her a new set of prosthetic feet every three years, but her $6,000/foot Echelon VT hydraulic prosthetics break down every 10 months. Read the rest

New Hampshire state Rep John Potucek kills Right to Repair bill: "cellphones are throwaways...just get a new one"

New Hampshire's Digital Fair Repair Act -- based on model Right to Repair legislation circulated by the Repair Coalition -- died this week after the state House of Reps voted it down, with Rep John Potucek [R-Derry] telling a reporter that he voted against the bill because "In the near future, cellphones are throwaways. Everyone will just get a new one." Read the rest

Steampunk nearly went mainstream, then nearly vanished

John Brownlee traces the rise and fall of steampunk, a genre and aesthetic I know is close to many hearts 'round these parts. (Some of my own thoughts on the matter are quoted.) The arrival of smartphones was a key moment, he writes, putting technology permanently within reach -- and beyond it.

Divorced of their gear-cog trappings, the best parts of steampunk live on as a wide-scale design and political movement known as Right to Repair. This movement, which is picking up steam among state legislatures (and vehemently opposed by major tech companies like Apple), is ostensibly about combating forced obsolescence and breaking the modern consumer electronic upgrade cycle, through legislation that forces companies to make their products repairable by the end user. In other words, it’s about empowerment and transparency: the right to understand the technology you depend upon.

From that perspective, steampunk never died at all. It just lost the “Jules Verne goth” aesthetic and went mainstream.

Read the rest

Apple bans an app because Hong Kong protesters might use it to avoid the murderous, out of control police

Hkmap Live is a crowdsourced app that uses reports from a Telegram group to track the locations of protesters, police, and traffic, as well as the use of antipersonnel weapons like tear gas, mass arrests of people wearing t-shirts associated with the protest movement, and mass transit closures in proximity to demonstrations (it's a bit like Sukey, the British anti-kettling app). Read the rest

Europe's Right to Repair rules have passed, and will take effect in 2021

Last year in the USA, a corporate coalition led by Apple killed 20 state Right to Repair bills (Massachusetts subsequently passed a ballot initiative that accomplished the same rules without having to pass the corruptible legislature), but in the EU, Right to Repair advocates have made enormous strides, and now the European Commission has adopted rules (coming into effect in 2021) that require manufacturers of lighting, washing machines, dishwashers and fridges to make parts available for a minimum of 10 years after the item is manufactured, and to design appliances so that parts can be easily replaced with standard tools. Read the rest

Seize your right to repair by learning a few basic skills

I've been repairing my phones and computers for years—I don't like being at the mercy of hardware vendors, especially when there's a sea of original and gray market replacement parts out there to be had. Upgrades? Same thing. While companies like Microsoft and Apple are making it almost impossible to tinker with the toys they make, it feels good to know that I can still at least install a fresh battery or increase the size of an old laptop's on board storage for hundreds less than it would cost me were I to take it into one of their repair centers. As I plopped a replacement battery into my 2012 11" MacBook Air earlier this week. I found my self feeling a lot of gratitude for the folks who talk me the fundamentals of puttering about with electronics. However, I know that not everyone has access to folks that can help them learn the skills they need in order to diagnose or correct a problem with their laptop, game console or other devices. This can make getting started with repairing you gear feel pretty intimidating.

You can get around this intimidation in a couple of ways. You can, if you're lucky enough to have one where you live visit a repair cafe or other similar business. They have the tools and instructions you'll need in order to learn how to do it yourself. And of course, there's the Interwebz. You'll find no end of videos that suggest how to tinker out a technical problem. Read the rest

Apple led the campaign to kill Right to Repair, now it's supplying parts to (some) independent repair shops

Apple was at the vanguard of the massive corporate spending that killed Right to Repair bills in 20 state legislatures last year, and while the company claims that it wants to protect its users from evil repair dudes who secretly hack their devices while claiming to fix them, Apple's CEO's frank warning to investors that profits are expected to slide if people keep fixing their Iphones instead of replacing them points at a much more likely answer. Read the rest

Small but meaningful progress towards a federal Right to Repair rule

The Right to Repair movement has introduced dozens of state-level laws that would force companies to support independent repairs by making manuals, parts and diagnostic codes available, and by ending the illegal practice of voiding warranties for customers who use independent repair services, but these bills keep getting killed by overwhelming shows of lobbying force from members of the highly concentrated manufacturing sector, particularly Apple, whose CEO, Tim Cook, warned investors in January that the number one threat to Iphone sales is that customers are choosing to repair, rather than replace, their mobile devices. Read the rest

Debunking Microsoft's anti-Right-to-Repair FUD

Microsoft is no stranger to the use of "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt" in the pursuit of monopolistic goals; the company perfected the tactic in the early 1990s as a way of scaring enterprise customers away from GNU/Linux; today, the company shows off its mastery of FUD in its filings to the Federal Trade Commission condemning proposals for Right-to-Repair rules. Read the rest

Podcast number 300: "Adversarial Interoperability: Reviving an Elegant Weapon From a More Civilized Age to Slay Today's Monopolies"

I just published the 300th installment of my podcast, which has been going since 2006 (!); I present a reading of my EFF Deeplinks essay Adversarial Interoperability: Reviving an Elegant Weapon From a More Civilized Age to Slay Today's Monopolies, where I introduce the idea of "Adversarial Interoperability," which allows users and toolsmiths to push back against monopolists. Read the rest

Adversarial interoperability: reviving an elegant weapon from a more civilized age to slay today's monopolies

Today, Apple is one of the largest, most profitable companies on Earth, but in the early 2000s, the company was fighting for its life. Microsoft's Windows operating system was ascendant, and Microsoft leveraged its dominance to ensure that every Windows user relied on its Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc). Apple users—a small minority of computer users—who wanted to exchange documents with the much larger world of Windows users were dependent on Microsoft's Office for the Macintosh operating system (which worked inconsistently with Windows Office documents, with unexpected behaviors like corrupting documents so they were no longer readable, or partially/incorrectly displaying parts of exchanged documents). Alternatively, Apple users could ask Windows users to export their Office documents to an "interoperable" file format like Rich Text Format (for text), or Comma-Separated Values (for spreadsheets). These, too, were inconsistent and error-prone, interpreted in different ways by different programs on both Mac and Windows systems. Read the rest

Americans believe that they should own the mountains of data produced by their cars, but they don't

Your car is basically a smartphone with wheels, and it gathers up to 25gb/hour worth of data on you and your driving habits -- everything from where you're going to how much you weigh. Cars gather your financial data, data on the number of kids in the back seat, and, once they're connected to your phone, data on who you call and text. Read the rest

DRM and terms-of-service have ended true ownership, turning us into "tenants of our own devices"

Writing in Wired, Zeynep Tufekci (previously) echoes something I've been saying for years: that the use of Digital Rights Management technologies, along with other systems of control like Terms of Service, are effectively ending the right of individuals to own private property (in the sense of exercising "sole and despotic dominion" over something), and instead relegating us to mere tenancy, constrained to use the things we buy in ways that are beneficial to the manufacturer's shareholders, even when that is at the cost of our own best interests. Read the rest

Bernie Sanders announces a farmers' right-to-repair and antitrust proposal similar to Elizabeth Warren's

Bernie Sanders' latest campaign plank is a suite of agricultural reforms similar to the ones proposed by Elizabeth Warren in March, including a national right-to-repair law for agricultural equipment, antitrust breakups of agribusiness seed, meatpacking and fertilizer monopolies, patent law reform to curb abuses of seed patents, reform of US trade agreements to support "domestic food security", rationalized supply management and a grain and feed reserve, national disaster coverage, relief for family farm bankruptcies, pro-diversity policies for 4H and other agricultural pipelines, incentives for regional co-ops, and a suite of climate change remediation measures. Read the rest

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