When a “Right to Repair” argument makes itself

Photo by 1lenore

Apple paid millions after iPhone repair techs posted a customer’s nude photos to Facebook —The Verge

I wish the best for the affected person(s) in this situation, as personal (nude) photos were viewed and then uploaded to their very own Facebook by “repair technicians.” Apple and a few other companies usually stand against Right to Repair, but in this fine example it’s obvious there is little or no safety around restricting consumer repairs.

On the FB thread via The Verge someone replied:

Shouldn’t the phone be wiped before someone repairs it? Sprint used to do that before T Mobile bought them —Andrew

Some clarification is warranted to understand how a typical repair works (desktop, laptop, et al.).

Starting with the customer

Let’s say I’ve dropped my iPhone resulting in a shattered the screen. When attempting to send the iPhone to Apple’s repair center you must turn off “Find My.” An iOS agent with AppleCare will guide you to Settings -> Name -> Find My to shut off the service IF you can access the exact device. Otherwise iCloud.com is most likely the sure way to have the device “removed from your account.” Find My is also their way of enabling “Activation Lock” for the device. Without the correct Apple ID (and password) the iPhone would be rendered useless.

Tip: Always keep an additional number as a “Trusted Phone Number” if you can:

On its way through the mail to the repair center

With Find My being turned off the iPhone is prepared for send off. Usually via UPS drop off or a mailed box to your location, the customer ships it off for repair – turnarounds lasting anywhere from one to three weeks.

Where the customer sometimes goes wrong

No, the customer is not always right. A snippet straight from Apple support:

  1. Back up your iOS device. To protect your data, erase your iOS device.
  2. Remove your iOS device from your Apple ID device list.
  3. Remove the SIM card from your iOS device if it uses one, and keep it in a safe place. If your iOS device doesn’t use a SIM card, contact your wireless service provider to suspend service if necessary.

Note “to protect your data, erase your iOS device.” This is critical to any repair process as the technician is likely to have access to the device’s storage and internals. You’re actively putting your data into their hands.

Curiosity of how much data a tech has access to?

When I’d remove malware from PCs sometimes customers would ask “where did the malware come from?” The short answer is “I don’t fully know, I can tell you it came via delivery of the web browser, possibly a misclick on a malicious ad or infected website.” The long answer is: I don’t fully know because in order to find out its exact delivery and how this machine acquired malware would involve looking at your habits on the computer – what websites you visit, their History, all applications you have installed and what network(s) you were using at the time and the dates.

Repairing a PC involves great moral as when you’re copying or inspecting someone’s documents and pictures you cannot look at them – Just make sure they transferred and are intact (not corrupt). And in this particular instance of the Pegatron tech they did more than verify contents, they outright viewed them… and this is wrong.

Is this really an argument supporting Right to Repair?

It’s not as if Apple has enough documentation out there for all customers to repair their devices themselves, whether software or hardware customers are left to AppleCare and third-party fixes. The customer clearly did not delete their data and the tech took advantage of the situation.

Yes. This scenario supports Right to Repair as this demonstrates moral negligence of the technician and the fact Apple relentlessly battles against Right to Repair and unsanctioned third-party support. We can promote better standards in privacy by not sending our entire devices off to remote repair shops. We can meet our technicians face-to-face, or perhaps takeout the storage device? There are a number of reasons behind why this supports Right to Repair. Not to mention the-mostly-fixed cost of the repair and maybe having to already be subscribed to AppleCare. Double-whammy!

The overall image of repairing an Apple device depicts customers assuming only Apple may repair the device. Apple has “special setups,” etc, etc. Sometimes the customer feels they are unable to master it themselves.

I feel it is okay to have your particular setups as it is your project, your invention, your product, but don’t come down on those hacking their products.

However, the customer should know what they’re getting into when acquiring an Apple product.


Do whatever you want with your devices. No company should have the ability to dictate what you do with it once it’s in your possession!


Thank you for reading! I hope you have a good day.

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