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Artificial software-level lockdowns

Posted on 25/08/2022 11:40:59 PM GMT

While we are fighting for the right to repair, we are also facing another problem. The software-level lockdowns are also enforced by the manufacturers artificially which also progresses the planned obsolesence of their devices. Such a serious issue is not heavily looked after by the consumers compared to planned obsolesence through irrepairable devices, which can also affect us in the similar manner.

Explanation of the term

The term basically signifies the practises endorced by the tech companies to artifically nerf the capabilities of the hardware of the devices by software. This means either not allowing the software such as operating systems to not run on perfectly capable hardware which is not "approved" by the company who made the software, providing updates which make the devices worse in terms of functionality, not allowing the consumers to do any sort of modification with their devices, deliberately bricking the device and much more.

The seriousness of the issue

By these tactics, the tech companies ensure that you don't actually own the device that you have paid for by not having full control over it, but instead making you to be dependent on them for the lifespan of your devices. Hence even if you paid for a new device such as a phone, you don't have control for how long you want to use it as the manufacturers can even render it unusable way before its actual lifespan at their own will. And by disallowing any sort of modifications on the device, the consumer has no way to utilize it beyond its lifecycle given by the manufacturer even if it is still capable to get utilized beyond it.

The consequences of these is similar to irrepairable devices, such as generation of ewaste, forcing consumer to pay for a new product even if they don't want to, etc.

The solution

While enforcing the laws to make these companies to be less anti-consumer may seem like a good idea at the first glance, it still won't fully fix the problems as they will either try to find the loophole of the laws, follow the laws in half-hearted way which doesn't actually benifit the consumers or outright being prepared to pay the fines for not following the laws without facing any real consequences.

The real solution however, is to have a healthy competition on the market. For example, newer companies like Framework provide options to consumers to have an more open, repairable hardware and software which runs on it which doesn't suffer from the issues a typical counterpart from an anti-consumer company would face. Not only these companies prove that it is possible to deliver devices which are repairable and open in this day and age but they also force other pre-existing companies to follow the similar suit in order to remain competitive in the market.