Right-to-repair advocate urges Apple to let resellers bypass security protocols

2020 M1 MacBooks are headed to recycling centers

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An independent MacBook dealer and right-to-repair advocate has removed Macs from a facility that destroys computers for safety reasons and wants Apple to let him disable iCloud Activation Locks.

John Bumstead has a business refurbishing and reselling used Macs through his RDKL INC repair shop. Apple doesn’t make his life easy as a business owner looking to sell used computers cheaply.

Products no longer used by companies, schools and the public are often given to recycling centers with strict disposal rules to protect data. These centers are often certified according to the Responsible Recycling standard, called R2.

Dealers like Bumstead treat these centers like a goldmine of used parts, though not without breaking some rules. In order for dealers to obtain computers or parts marked as scrap for destruction, the facility must voluntarily violate their R2 certification.

It seems simple enough for unauthorized dealers like Bumstead to find shady recycling centers willing to sell him parts and computers, but there’s still an obstacle in the way. He wants Apple to make it easier for people to bypass activation locks on products.

This has always been a problem with products like the iPhone and iPad, which are locked to an Apple ID when the user logs in. However, Macs got Activation Lock when the T2 was introduced, and it was also integrated into Apple Silicon.

In a story from Deputy, the right-to-repair attorney argues that Apple should allow users to request that Activation Lock be removed from a product. However, he fails to mention that Apple already has a process to do this for legally obtained products.

The process is very simple. If a user has purchased an Apple product through means that will produce a receipt, e.g. via eBay, users can request that the activation lock be removed. All the user has to do is navigate to Apple Support and provide a receipt as proof.

The problem Bumstead is likely to run into is MDM, or mobile device management. Apple will not unlock products that were previously part of an MDM system that are still connected.

The situation is further complicated by how these MDM computers are acquired. An R2 certified recycling facility will generally have sub-certifications for data disposal and other safeguards.

So this means that companies see these certifications and expect that units sent to this facility will be fully disassembled and recycled.

Apple's response to rights activists so far is to rent expensive equipment

Apple’s response to rights activists so far is to rent expensive equipment

Bumstead openly admitted to his practice of sourcing parts and computers from recycling facilities that willingly violate their R2 certification. While his goal is to stop the recycling process and give these Macs a new life, it’s not altruistic.

Taking computers destined for destruction and placing them on the used market for their own profit is probably not a recycling stream that Apple wants to get behind.

Previously, Bumstead was seen protesting Apple’s move to kick unauthorized resellers from Amazon in 2019, a move that also affected Bumstead’s sales.

The right-to-repair movement wants Apple to give users more control over the devices they own. Disputes have made it to the higher courts, generally resulting in Apple giving some ground to the movement.

Most recently, Apple began providing parts, tools, and instructions to individuals who want to repair their own iPhones and Macs themselves. But so far, efforts are not going as far as most right-to-repair advocates would like, and the necessary tools can be expensive to rent.


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