Increasing Understanding of Technology and Communication

Big Tech Crushes NYs ‘Right To Repair’ Bill Again!

Right-To-Repair

Companies like Apple maintain control over devices you purchase, even when they break. Major tech companies like Apple have trampled legislation that would have helped consumers and small businesses fix broken gadgets.

New York state legislation that would have required manufacturers to provide information about how to repair devices like the iPhone failed to get a vote, ending any chance of passage this legislative session. Similar measures have met the same fate in Minnesota, Nebraska, Massachusetts and, yes, even previously in New York.

Essentially, politicians never get to vote on so-called right to repair legislation because groups petitioning on behalf of the electronics industry gum up the proceedings.

Senate Bill S3998B (Summary): Requires manufacturers of digital electronic parts to offer for sale diagnostic and repair information in the same manner as such manufacturer provides such diagnostic and repair information to such manufacturer's repair channel; section does not apply to motor vehicles.

“We were disappointed that it wasn’t brought to the floor, but we were successful in bringing more attention to the issue,” New York state Sen. Phil Boyle (R), a sponsor of the bill, told The Huffington Post Friday.

Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of The Repair Association, a group of nonprofits and businesses that backed New York’s right to repair legislation, blamed the lack of a vote on lobbyists for major tech companies.

“They threw enough doubt into the minds of legislators that Fair Repair was not put out for a vote,” Gordon-Byrne told HuffPost in an email, referring to the legislation by its title, the “Fair Repair Act.” “Four companies against 19 million [New York] consumers.”

Gordon-Byrne said lobbyists from IBM, Apple, Xerox and Cisco were particularly active in working against the legislation. A variety of interests have opposed right to repair measures in the past, including the Consumer Technology Association, to which IBM, Apple and Cisco belong.

Advocates say right to repair laws would protect consumers and help the environment by insuring that devices last longer, thus reducing electronics waste. If you or a business can affordably repair a broken device, you may have less incentive to buy a new one, the logic goes.

But corporations typically oppose right to repair legislation because it would relax their total control over their products.

“The proposal could enable anyone posing as a repair shop to reverse-engineer such a device to create counterfeit devices,” the Consumer Technology Association once wrote in a letter opposing right to repair obtained by HuffPost.

Louis Rossman, an electronics repairman who makes informational videos, recently claimed on YouTube and Reddit that companies like Apple argue that third-party repairs destroy the integrity of their products.

“I just thought I'd add my two cents in here.

When I visited the Senate in Albany, I was allowed into many rooms I would not usually have access to, and able to speak to many highly qualified, intelligent individuals in politics. I was given a rare opportunity to be inside the "inner circle", and to hear what was going on.

It made me want to throw up in my mouth. Lobbyists opposing this bill literally told people that when I repair a Macbook using schematics I find online, that I am turning it into a PC when I replace a resistor or run a wire. Then I tell my customer that it is still a Macbook, which is misrepresenting the device to my customer, which is why they need to keep these schematics out of the hands of end users.

I talk about that in this video. I cannot express in words how much internal discipline and fortitude it took for me to not do this.”

Apple says it does not comment on pending legislation, but maintains its products don’t contribute to an e-waste problem.

Regardless, New Yorkers, at least, will have to wait until next year before right to repair legislation has another chance.

Read Article (name | domain | 03/11/2016)

When a high-tech device breaks the manufacturer want it repaired only by them. As in the case of Apple, this is part of their revenue stream. And when the repair costs get too high for you, this prompts you to buy a newer version.

Normal electronic repair shops are quite capable of making these repairs at a quarter the cost and maybe the repair is better (and permanent).

This really does bring into question – “Authorized Repair Centers”.

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Limited Access with Smartphone Only Internet

Smartphone-Only-Internet

For many of us, access to the Internet through a variety of means is a given.  I can gain access through two laptops, a tablet, a smartphone and even both of my game systems, all from the comfort of my living room.

However, this access is unequally distributed.  Although reports state nine out of 10 low-income families have Internet access at home, most are under-connected: that is, they have “mobile-only” access – they are able to connect to the Internet only through a smart device, such as a tablet or a smartphone.

A recent report, “Opportunity for all? Technology and learning in low-income families,” shows that one-quarter of those earning below the median income and one-third of those living below poverty level accessed the Internet only through their mobile devices.

This leads to limited access: A third of families with mobile-only access quickly hit the data limits on their mobile phone plans and about a quarter have their phone service cut off for lack of payment.

So what impact does this type of access have on youth learning?

What changes with a computer connection?

My research has explored underserved youth’s use of technology to discover and participate in content related to their interests.  Having access only through their mobile devices means that low-income families and youth do not have the same access to the Internet as those with other Internet connections.

One-fifth of families who access the Internet the mobile-only say too many family members have to share one device.  This means that the amount of time each individual has to access the Internet is limited.  This can be a serious barrier to learning for young people.  It can limit their access to resources to complete their homework, as well as create barriers for other learning.  While 35% of youth with mobile-only access look online for information about things they are interested in, for young people with a computer connection this jumps to 52%.

An example of youth accomplishment online comes from my 2014 research on a professional wrestling fan community, a set of forums where professional wrestling fans get together virtually to discuss the many facets of professional wrestling.

Maria, a professional wrestling fan, seeks out an online community because she lacks local support for her interest.  Through her participation, she realizes her deep enjoyment of writing.  The carries this back into her English class and the school newspaper.  This eventually leads her to take creative writing as a second degree in college.

Maria spent hours on her computer carefully crafting her narratives while participating in the forum.  With a mobile-only access, she would not have had the amount of time online, or the amount of bandwidth, required for this work.  This is supported by the fact that only 31% of children with mobile-only access go online daily as compared to 51% of those with other Internet access.

How low-income family youth get left behind

Mobile-only access the Internet can create serious barriers for youth who want to access content and educational supports.  Also, there are some online programs that are not yet available on mobile devices.

Need for better understanding

What becomes evident is data from “Opportunity for all? Technology and learning in low-income families” and from examples from research is that having access to the Internet only through a phone can have an impact on young people’s access to learning opportunities.

Designers, educators and researchers need to be aware and continually create more equity through mindful decision-making.

Just how young people access online, in other words, matters – a lot.

Read Article (Crystle Martin | theconversation.com | 02/11/2016)

Marketing for mobile devices should also be mindful of this youth learning issue, the marketing slogan that includes “a mobile device will replace a computer” is baseless and highly improbable.  Personally, I view such statements as “misleading”.

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