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EU Right to Repair legislation passes proposal stage

Moved this out of the politics category, because I think it’s worth being seen by more people. Please refrain from going full pol, but go ahead and tear it to bits haha


Ooo, I missed this the other day.

EU legislation is so needlessly obtusely presented, but the link to the text passed is below.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2020-0318_EN.html

If this is actually developed properly, it looks like it’ll force manufacturers to either make their products more repairable, or give consumers easier ways of getting their products repaired - either through availability of parts, or through the manufacturer. It also calls for most standardisation of parts, so consumers have more choice when repairing their devices. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of exceptions in this when it comes to devices like computers, which have a lot of intellectual property tied in, but for household electronics this could be great.

As well as that, this bit of gold it tacked on

  1. Stresses that goods with digital elements require particular attention and that the following elements should be taken into account within the review of Directive (EU) 2019/771 to be carried out by 2024:

a. corrective updates – i.e. security and conformity updates – must continue throughout the estimated lifespan of the device, according to product category;

b. corrective updates should be kept separate from evolutive updates, which must be reversible, and no update must ever diminish the performance or responsiveness of the goods;

c. consumers must be informed by the seller at the moment of purchase of the period during which updates to the software supplied on purchase of the goods can be expected to be provided, in a way that is compatible with innovation and possible future market developments, as well as of their specificities and impacts on device performance, to ensure that the goods maintain their conformity and security;


All of this is done with the caveat of the EU Commission creating the legislation by 2024, “in consultation with the relevant stakeholders,” so there is very much the potential for this to be heavily watered down.


Also, this picture hahahahahaha

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This will be changed or it will break security of devices in the EU.

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This is almost as bad as the girl holding the hot end of the soldering iron.
https://forum.level1techs.com/t/post-your-tech-cringe-gore/113501/3

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Yeah, there’s a lot of things in there that will have exceptions. Security vulnerability and general hardware fixes would definitely come under that.

I’m most interested in the conformity aspect of section 7. As more hardware codec support is added to future products and required by software, manufacturers would have to provide updates to their existing hardware without any acceleration, which would ‘diminish the performance’ to maintain parity in functionality.

  1. How long before Apple makes parts for EU products completely and utterly incompatible with devices sold to the rest of the world?

  2. How long before the idiots writing this shoehorn in mandatory backdoors to encryption because they’re morons who don’t understand how security actually works?

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Based on this, Europe makes up about 26% of Apple sales, so it wouldn’t make sense to differentiate your products that far. In making their own hardware and software, and owning the vast majority of the IP involved, they would just need to make repairing their devices easier.

In terms of software support, they’re already ahead of every other manufacturer in the mobile space for the length of time they support their devices. The only place they could improve here would be pushing more security updates to older OS X versions, but that would require either white hat hackers finding the vulnerabilities, or Apple investigating in-house. They could just expand their bounty program to include those versions too, but I don’t see people getting huge payouts for OS versions hardly anyone would be using at the time.

Oh, that’s being covered in another proposal from the EU Council (made up of ministers from EU countries, not a fully fledges proposal from the EU Commission)…

This PIA blog post is a bit hyperbole-full, but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on how it develops. How they’re proposing things happen just isn’t technically possible now, and probably ever, so it probably won’t go anywhere. You either have encryption or no encryption.

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I actually think Apple would be compliant with most of what zavar suggested. They are easily serviceable since Apple does provide a transparent repair service.

The area about part standardisation I’d expect won’t apply to many devices. Motors on washing machines maybe, not cameras on phones. The smaller you get the harder it is since size dictates part shapes.

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Apple gets a lot of flack and rightly so in many cases but I expect they are the gold standard (or at least the best we have) of how mobile devices are supported. No one else really comes that close.

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I was thinking more long the lines of software code that says “this phone was sold in the US, this replacement screen was sold in the EU, display error message about incompatibility”. The idea being to prevent people in the US ordering EU parts and getting their phones repaired with officially licensed products, therefore protecting their US market.

Because IIRC Apple has already sort of done similar things with certain “unlicensed” parts.

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It would probably be too easy for that to mess with their own supply chains for it to not become a reality.

You already have the same. US phones are almost always different to phones in the EU. Mainly due to the radios but not always.

So it’s possible, it depends how broken the EU make this

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It would make sense for this to apply more to appliances and large electronics. There are plenty of parts that are just about standard on many appliances, just each model has a minor tweak that makes it not fully compatible with others. Motors are a good example, idk bearings, and some others probably as well.

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That’s my big concern btw. How broken are the EU going to make it. Because their track record on the digital world is… not great.

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This is where the differentiation could come in. Make parts adhere to open physical standards, but manufacturers will obviously still have control the functionality and performance of their product, integrating their own IP.

If this is written properly, this could be a stepping stone towards shaping up international IP law a bit. Too many patents rely on very obscure physical differences, which I don’t think make them fall under what’s considered novel. I think having open standards that everyone has to work towards also makes it much easier for smaller companies to break into markets like kitchen appliances - which are generally controlled by large multinationals - because it’ll open up supply chains.


Saying all of this. Kitchen appliances do tend to be one of the things that’s normally pretty easy to repair, with parts being widely available. The only thing that could really be done here is an extra push towards encouraging repair over buying new.

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If you think those large multinationals with their ginormous lobby budgets are actually going to allow small competitors to exist, let alone grow, you’ve got another thing comin’! :wink:

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They are impossible to service. A lot of parts are “special” in the sense a few pins are swapped.

Serviceable does not mean self serviceable. Boilers are also not really self serviceable. Don’t expect this law to demand everything is self repairable.

The idea behind this is minimizing waste.
Landfill is worse than Recycling, Recycling is worse than Repairing.
There were some surveys done by the EU regarding consumer opinions on minimizing waste. As those were strongly in favour of repairability, that is where this aims.


Software
If I read the German version of the proposal correctly, the aim is to outlaw needless software locks. Generic hardware (switches, sensors, charge regulators, etc.) would then no longer be allowed to have a hardware ID that locks them to their “first neighbours”.


Hardware
When everyone uses the same part with an unofficial standard pinout (eg. charge regulator), then companies should be restricted in making “minimal changes” (swapping V and Gnd) in order to restrict compatibility.
Another goal is to signal durability (like MTBF on professional hardware).


My two cents:
I would like a 0 to 10 scoreing system to distinguish serviceable from fully potted proprietary everything with no service manual available.

I despise Bosch for example for having the temperature controller and thermostat ID-lock to the compressor controller. In case the thermostat craps out, the entire fridge is trash.

With Philips on the other hand, you can get spare valves, pumps and hoses to repair a coffee machine. The service manuals leak to the internet rather quickly after a new device comes to market.


Right now, we are in a “throw out and replace”-world. Cheap chinesium devices rely on off the shelf parts you could buy and fix yourself or ask someone knowledgeable to do so.
With Bosch or Apple, you can’t. There is no spare parts available for a temp controller, no charge regulator, etc.
Those are almost pin-compatible parts, except two pins are swapped. And to the shredder it goes!
Does not matter if there is a “technician” when he just tosses perfectly good PCBs in the bin because individual components are not available.

Article from 2017 about “and to the shredder”

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We’re heading in to the territory of 1000 variables

reduce is better than reuse, reuse is better than recycle, recycle is better than landfill.

Not matter what way you put it the iphone is top of the game in that, at least on the mobile market.

As for parts, yes, replacing parts are good, if its cost effective. integrated parts are more efficient in both power and materials used, and in the case of small devices like phones, we really expect people to be repaired with parts the size of half a grain of rice?

You’re just not going to get a perfect answer to that. The best option is to simply stop buying things all together. get an axe and a pan and leave it at that.

As for the shredder, thats a whole other issues with black market industries thats not worth discussing here.

At the end of the day some good changes would be great. the EU though needs to make sure they dont just end up stifling innovation and making peoples lives a missery

That black market of used spares would not exist of more companies sold replacement parts directly.