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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Apple and others accused of ‘anti-competitive repair restrictions’ by FTC

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Apple has long been accused of making it more difficult to repair its products than it should and now a new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report has piled on. According to that report, Apple and other companies are guilty of “anti-competitive repair restrictions,” including the use of software locks.

Those software locks often mean that replacing a single part within a product also means that multiple other parts also need to be replaced. Apple is a prime example here, particularly in the case of various iPhone models – including the current iPhone 12.

Software locks, digital rights management (‘DRM”) tools or technological protection measures (TPMs”) are access control technologies implemented by OEMs. While manufacturers argue that these measures are necessary to protect proprietary hardware and copyrighted technologies, repair advocates argue such tactics lock ISOs and consumers out of basic repairs. Embedded software may force consumers to have the maintenance and repair of their products performed by the manufacturers’ authorized service networks. Furthermore, according to iFixit, “if you replace the screen on your iPhone even if it’s with a brand new OEM screen off of another identical iPhone certain features like TrueTone won’t work correctly.

Other issues include Apple being the only company that can replace iPhone parts that are synchronized to the device’s logic board. However, Apple often cites security as the reason for this, suggesting it ensures third parties can’t replace items like the Touch ID sensor with one that has already been compromised.

The FTC also went on to say that it will help with any attempt to employ legislation to make it easier for devices to be repaired.

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