When repairing things you own may make you an outlaw

When repairing things you own may make you an outlaw

How do you balance the right to repair with the requirement to remain secure?



Images of jackbooted, militarized cops descending into dimly-lit basements where appliance techs slap grimy, roughshod parts of doubtful lineage together come to mind in the still-simmering fight – yes, it’s a fight – to allow people to work on the tech they already bought and own. You’d think this wouldn’t be a thing: If you buy a device, it’s yours, hopefully you won’t need to repair it or can have it easily repaired and the manufacturer can get on with making more new technology for when you’re ready for their next gizmo or gadget. Not so.


Step away from that screwdriver, back away from the digital gizmo, you may be breaking the law. Want to fix a security issue because the manufacturer won’t? That just might be criminal.


Aside from the pseudo-obvious dark imagery of hardened criminals hastily etching out makeshift tattoos in a somewhat non-sterile fashion in the prisons of the world being joined by a fresh batch of fix-it smartphone techs from our malls, the tech industry, in some parts, is arguing that if you lift a screwdriver or 3D print a replacement gear for the drive on your printer that you risk doing time.


It’s part of a weird dystopian view of what the future might look like, where you really only rent-with-license some new e-doodad and then when it fails you buy new stuff and don’t ask questions.


Well, really, you re-rent the objects you already “bought” via smarmy licensing from the manufacturer. And once they fail, you merely rinse-and-repeat. It’s as if Phillip K. Dick met Wall Street, trying to find the bleakest way to increase sha ..