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Repair advocate urges Apple to allow vendors to bypass security protocols

2020 M1 MacBooks are on their way to recycling centers

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An independent MacBook vendor and right-to-repair advocate has wiped Macs from a facility that destroys computers for security reasons, and wants Apple to let it disable iCloud Activation Locks.

John Bumstead owns a business refurbishing and reselling used Macs through his RDKL INC repair shop. Apple isn’t making life easy as a business owner looking to sell used computers on the cheap.

Products no longer used by businesses, schools and government are often given to recycling centers with strict data protection disposal rules. These centers are often certified by the responsible recycling standard, referred to as R2.

Retailers like Bumstead treat these hubs as a goldmine of used parts, though, and it’s not without breaking a few rules. For vendors to have computers or parts marked as scrap for destruction, the facility must willingly violate their R2 certificate.

It seems simple enough for unauthorized sellers like Bumstead to find shady recycling centers willing to sell him parts and computers, but there’s still a hurdle in his way. He wants Apple to make it easier for people to bypass Activation Lock on products.

This has long been an issue with products like the iPhone and iPad, which are locked to an Apple ID once a user is signed in. However, Macs gained Activation Lock once the T2 was introduced, and that was built into Apple Silicon as well.

in whose story ViceRight to Repair advocate argues that Apple should give users the ability to request removal of Activation Lock from a product. However, it neglects to mention that Apple already has a process in place to do this for legally obtained products.

Very simple process. If a user purchases an Apple product through means that will issue a receipt, such as through eBay, users can request removal of Activation Lock. All the user has to do is go to Apple Support and provide a receipt as proof.

The problem that Bumstead is facing is likely to be Multiple Device Management, or MDM. Apple will not unlock products that were previously part of an MDM system that is still attached.

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

So, this means that companies see those certifications and expect the devices sent to that facility to be completely disassembled and recycled.

Apple's response to right-to-repair activists so far has been to rent expensive equipment

Apple’s response to right-to-repair activists so far has been to rent expensive equipment

Bumstead openly admitted his practice of obtaining parts and computers from recycling facilities willingly in violation of their R2 certification. While his goal is to stop the recycling process and give these Macs new life, it’s not an altruistic operation.

Taking computers destined for destruction and putting them on the used market for his own profit probably isn’t a recycling stream that Apple wants to bypass.

Previously, Bumstead was seen protesting Apple’s move to expel unauthorized distributors from Amazon in 2019. A move that also affected Bumstead’s sales.

Apple’s Right to Repair movement wants to give users more control over the devices they own. Disputes have reached the higher courts, generally resulting in Apple giving some ground for the motion.

Recently, Apple has started providing parts, tools, and instructions to individuals who want to fix their iPhone and Mac on their own. But, so far, efforts don’t go as far as most reform right advocates would like, and the tools required can be expensive to rent.