Local stores and big tech clash in Nevada 'right to repair' debate

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Repair shops in Nevada have argued in favor of the state introducing law changes to require 'right to repair,' while technology firms including Apple are lobbying against the effort, citing privacy concerns.

As Apple expands its independent repair provider program, it is still protesting against more general 'right to repair' laws, as are being debated in various states. Nevada's latest hearing saw a trade firm lobbying on behalf of technology firms, while local firms said such a law change would directly help citizens.

According to AP News, assembleywoman Selena Torres has argued in favor of a bill that would apply to consumer electronics retailing at under $5,000. Nevada's bill would exempt gambling equipment.

"Early in the pandemic, a nationwide laptop shortage left millions of students unprepared for virtual learning," said Torres, a Las Vegas English teacher who has previously worked in a repair firm. "As an educator I saw firsthand how families struggled to share one device with several school-aged children."

"The right to repair will give schools and other institutions the information they need to maintain equipment and empower the refurbished computer market, saving taxpayer dollars and improving digital access," she continued.

Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Honeywell and other technology manufacturers were represented at the hearing by Cameron Demetre, regional executive director of lobbying trade group TechNet.

Demetre claimed that the proposed bill had "the potential for troubling unintended consequences, including serious adverse security, privacy and safety risks." He argued that allowing "unvetted third parties" access to devices would put owners' personal information at risk.

Walter Alcorn, lobbyist for the Consumer Electronics Association, also argued against the bill, saying that there would be no way to prevent substandard parts being used in repairs.

"One of the reasons that consumer electronics manufacturers are so sensitive is that their business model is based on their brand reputation," said Alcorn.

"The concern that these companies have in protecting their brands — and these products still carry their names on them — is in particular that the repairs will be done wrong," he continued, "or that substandard parts will be included and the customer experience will be different."

Local businessman Curtis Jones, from the Technology Center in Sparks City, Nevada, told the hearing that his repair business is in danger of closing.

"It's changed from being able to do anything you want to repair your computer or printer, to 'you can't do anything now,'" Jones said. "Everything's changed to being disposable or impossible to repair."

Apple has not directly commented on Nevada's proposals. However, despite its expanding repair program, Apple has internally been divided over the whole issue of 'right to repair.'

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