Recently, Motherboard obtained a copy of the contract businesses are required to sign before being admitted to Apple’s IRP Program. The contract, which has not previously been made public, sheds new light on a program Apple initially touted as increasing access to repair but has been remarkably silent on ever since. It contains terms that lawyers and repair advocates described as “onerous” and “crazy”; terms that could give Apple significant control over businesses that choose to participate. Concerningly, the contract is also invasive from a consumer privacy standpoint.
In order to join the program, the contract states independent repair shops must agree to unannounced audits and inspections by Apple, which are intended, at least in part, to search for and identify the use of “prohibited” repair parts, which Apple can impose fines for. If they leave the program, Apple reserves the right to continue inspecting repair shops for up to five years after a repair shop leaves the program. Apple also requires repair shops in the program to share information about their customers at Apple’s request, including names, phone numbers, and home addresses.
Nobody should be surprised by this. The only reason Apple announced this half-hearted program in the first place is to try and take the wind out of the sails of right to repair legislation, which is being proposed all over the US (and beyond), and the terms of this contract only further confirm that.
As for the privacy aspect and Apple wanting all that very private user information – if you still think Apple cares about privacy, you really haven’t been paying attention.