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Apple lobbies against 'right to repair' proposal in Nebraska

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As reported earlier this year, Apple has sent delegates to officially oppose the passage of a so-called "right to repair" bill in Nebraska that would require the company to provide consumers and third-party repair shops access to service manuals and parts.

State Sen. Lydia Brasch, sponsor of Nebraska's Adopt the Fair Repair Act, said Apple representative Steve Kester apprised her of the pitfalls of similar "right to repair" legislation in a recent meeting, reports BuzzFeed News.

Specifically, Kester, who handles state and local government affairs for the Cupertino tech giant, warned Nebraska will become a "Mecca for bad actors" if the bill is passed. The legislation could provide hackers and other unsavory characters hardware-level access to Apple products.

Though previous reports claimed Apple planned to send an envoy to present against the proposal, dubbed LB67, during Thursday's hearing, it appears Kester met with Brasch in private.

That Apple is at odds with LB67 is unsurprising. The company has consistently opposed similar government action, saying its products should only be serviced by qualified technicians. Apple, along with other companies like Samsung and John Deere that would also be impacted by right to repair laws, argue such legislation would expose industry secrets and could create security and safety concerns.

The arguments were presented in a letter to Brasch penned by a number of tech industry groups, including CompTIA, the Consumer Technology Association, and the Information Technology Industry Council. Apple, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Nintendo and Sony are among the many interests represented by the various interest groups.

Apple itself contends that conducting repairs through authorized outlets like Apple stores and vetted shops provides customers with a consistent experience. Further, an authorized repair network helps the company control and protect its various hardware platforms. On that note, Apple told Brasch it would not oppose LB67 if phones were excepted from the legislation.

Proponents of right to repair claim companies like Apple are only interested in holding sway over the lucrative repair industry. Opening up the repair market would present consumers with more choices, thereby lowering out-of-pocket costs, supporters say.

The problem of choice is of great concern for users living in rural areas, as companies often position their repair facilities in major metropolitan cities. Nebraska, for example, has only one brick-and-mortar Apple store — a mall location in Village Pointe. A handful of authorized repair shops are sprinkled throughout the state, but many customers living in remote areas are forced to travel long distances or send in their device for service.

For now, Apple seems to have won a brief reprieve in its Nebraska pursuits. At the conclusion of Thursday's hearing, the chair of the Judiciary Committee concluded LB67 is unlikely to be considered this year, citing the inherent challenges of passing new legislation, the report said.

Still, state houses in Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Tennessee and Wyoming are currently mulling similar bills. Nebraska is so far the only state to hold hearings on the matter.