Apple has put security measures in place to successfully render lost or stolen iPhone, iPads, and Macs worthless. While that is good for owners, and bad for thieves, it is bad for the environment.
The feature, called Activation Lock, ties an iPhone, iPad, or newer Macs equipped with the T2 security chip, to an Apple ID. If the device isn’t wiped correctly by the owner in a way that unlocks the Activation Lock feature, the device will be useless unless the correct Apple ID and password are entered.
The problem is, owners aren’t aware of this issue, and are dropping off hardware for recycling with Activation Lock still enabled, which means the device cannot be resold or refurbished, and instead has to be scrapped or tossed into the shredder.
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A report by hardware repair specialists iFixit suggests that this problem is quite widespread. Peter Schindler, founder and owner of a Colorado-based electronics recycler and refurbisher reports that it receives “four to six thousand locked iPhones per month” which “have to get parted out or scrapped” because of Activation Lock.
And this is just one recycler, and the tip of an iceberg of e-waste.
So, what’s the answer?
Schindler offers up the suggestion that Apple put in place a way for certified recyclers and refurbishers to bypass Activation Lock and unlock donated devices, as long as they have not been reported lost or stolen. And it seems that Schindler, along with help from the EFF, U.S. PIRG, and iFixit, is “considering filing a DMCA exemption request if Apple won’t voluntarily come up with a solution.”
Thoughts? Should resellers be able to bypass Activation Lock, or do you think this would be abused?