The Right to Repair is a Libertarian Argument


Recently there has been a lot of discussion and news surrounding the concept known as “right to repair.”

Fundamentally what it means is that I have purchased a product and I have the right to repair my device as well as have access to the parts and knowledge to be able to perform such actions. It’s actually not a new concept as we originally fought for “right to repair” in the beginning of the PC era.

Years ago when you bought a PC, you weren’t allowed to repair the computer, upgrade it, or anything else unless the manufacturer or an authorized third party performed it. So essentially what “right to repair” means is that when I purchase a product; whether it be an automobile, a cell phone, a PC, or anything else that if it breaks I should have the ability to get it repaired either through the manufacturer, third parties, or the ability to attain the tools, knowledge, and components to perform the repair myself.

In fact, if it were not for “right to repair”, my current job at Accunet, where I perform managed service plans for IT, to maintain business networks, wouldn’t exist; nor would many automotive garages, or even cell phone repair stores.

I am a huge “do it yourself” person. I repair my own PCs, I do a lot of my own maintenance on my cars, I even repair my own phones and tablet computers whenever possible. In fact, I used to work in a cell phone repair shop, Code Red Wireless, here in central Ohio, and I used to repair hundreds of Apple devices.

I am that guy when most things break that are electronic they call me up, stop by my house, or shoot me a message and a picture asking for advice or if I can repair it for them. I have done everything from color changing an iPhone, to replacing capacitors on a once dead laptop to bring it back to life. I’ve been taking apart and repairing electronics for many years, since I was little kid, as I have been using a soldering iron since I was as young as seven.

It’s easy to figure out a repair. There are YouTube videos, forum posts, schematics and more, widely available, whether I need to repair my devices or even my own car.

However, there is one major hurdle that usually occurs whenever I am repairing an Apple device; whether it is a Macbook, iMac, iPhone, iPod, or iPad. That hurdle is US customs and the United States Postal Service as well as many government agencies.

Allow me to explain what is happening to me and every single third party repair shop in the USA, Canada, and the European Union.

Apple is lobbying governments around the world to stop third party repair shops by saying they are using counterfeit parts.

It’s reached such a fever pitch that Apple is suing third party stores in the USA and abroad to shut down their entire business model by seizing all of their parts at the borders when they come in.

I have had Apple Macbook trackpads, iPhone screens, buttons, phone backs, and more parts seized by customs with no way to get my money back or the parts I paid for. I’m not alone in this. A store in Norway recently had something similar happen.

Apple has lobbied governments so hard in an effort to prevent third party repairs, that seeing as it’s illegal to import counterfeit screens, many repairers are taking to removing the broken digitizer, which some refer to as the ‘glass’, off and sending them to Chinese factories who take legitimate Apple displays off the digitizer and refurbish them with new glass. Apple has even determined this to be counterfeiting and took this particular shop to court. Fortunately, the court sided with the store owner and he will get his stock back.

Apple has even been so evil in their intent to ban third party repair that they’ve actually released updates that will stop perfectly good devices that have a third party display on them.

Libertarians and conservatives will say that a business has every right to do what it pleases, which I don’t disagree with; however, once you purchase the product and it’s officially under your care and ownership, you should be allowed to do whatever you please to do with said device.

Many libertarians may respond by saying that you should read the Apple terms and conditions, where it says repairs must be done by an Apple store or an authorized Apple repair center.

However what about when you face an issue such as the one Linus Sebastian (a famous YouTuber known for “LinusTechTips”)faced, where he can’t even get Apple to repair an iMac Pro he accidentally broke and had every intention to pay for repairs for. Apple simply refused to do the repairs on a system that’s not even a year old.

Linus released an eight minute video detailing the ordeal and correspondence to give an idea of how stupid this situation is. But when you compound this with the knowledge I have, that Apple has had a horrible system design for their hardware for many years leading to many defects over the years, it begs the question, why does Apple not want me to repair my own devices?

Louis Rossman, is perhaps the single most famous third party repair shop, he has hundreds of videos discussing Apple component level repairs, and the issues with Apple devices, he is also one of the biggest advocates of course for the “right to repair.”

He released a video detailing years of Apple’s flawed designs and their response to fixing these issues.

All the issues he documents are as follows:

  1. A1226/A1260 2007-2008 Macbook GPU failures, warranty service refusal
  2. A1226/A1260 2007-2008 Macbook Pro hinge/frame problem
  3. A1286 Macbook Pro – the “Unibody” myth, glued together pieces fall apart
  4. A1286/A1297 MCP power circuit failure due to poor buck converter design: C7771 issue
  5. iPhone 4 cellular placement fail
  6. iPhone 5 power button problem
  7. A1286 2010 Macbook Pro GPU kernel panics due to same buck converter defect from 2008/2009
  8.  A1286 2011 Macbook Pro GPU failure, Apple gets sued over not addressing problem.
  9.  Apple gives out badly refurbished boards as warranty replacements for 2011 GPU failures.
  10.  2012 Retina Macbook Pro: another motherboard issue (U8900), due to poor soldering/manufacturing method on the GPU buck converter.
  11.  Mac Pro GPU failure (again).
  12.  iPhone 6/6+ touchscreen issue due to structural issue.
  13.  SSD soldered straight into the motherboard+ chip that would kill the macbook, because a power line would short out to ground when the chip dies.
  14.  2016 Macbook keyboard reliability issue.
  15.  2016 Macbook Battery failure issue.
  16.  A1278 Macbook Pro SATA cable failures.

Again, Louis Rossman goes through and breaks down the entire story with one of these issues.

I have had official Apple store repairs go wrong very often, I even had an entire motherboard die within minutes of getting my Macbook (back in 2014), when all I had them do was replace the battery as it was cheaper for them to replace it than for me to buy a new battery.

I’ve had friends give me Apple laptops they had repaired by Apple, and I saw melted plastic on connectors as if they didn’t use any shields. They even sold my friend a refurbished Macbook that had water damage from the very day he opened it and Apple refused to give him a non-water damaged replacement despite it coming that way out of the box.

Louis has documented ten years of wide spread horrible design or functionality flaws that have occurred regularly over a whole decade.

So in conclusion, libertarians and conservatives should work together to enact right to repair legislation just like we have for computers and automobiles, for cell phones and every device we can purchase. The fact is once I have purchased an item and it is in my possession, I should have an inalienable right to do whatever I please with my own property without interference from any government mandate or law passed through some corporate protectionist lobbyist.

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Knowledge of Mac, GNU/Linux, Windows but preferring to use GNU/Linux. Bitcoin user and expert, Cyber Punk, Minarchist libertarian, Businessman, Firearm lover, Constitutionalist, and a supporter of Free, Libre, and Open Source Software (FLOSS).Businessman and IT Contractor by trade available for hire. Specializing in Medical, Dental, and Small Business IT solutions