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Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Advocates who say that companies like Apple lock users into costly repair arrangements are trying to influence a growing debate in Washington over whether giant tech firms have become monopolies.

Why it matters: The issue has gotten less airtime than concerns about Apple's iOS App Store, but it's another possible point of scrutiny for regulators as they look at broader concerns over Big Tech's market power.

Flashback: For years, activists for a so-called "right to repair" have raised concerns about technology companies making it impossible for customers to go to anyone other than the manufacturer if they wanted to get their gear repaired, or restricting repairs to merchants that have the manufacturer's blessing.

  • Apple has become one flashpoint for the issue, given the prevalence of its smartphones.

Driving the news: In letters and testimony submitted to the record for a House Judiciary Committee hearing, right to repair advocates pressed their case that restricting who gets to repair a device is a way of gaining a competitive edge.

  • "Repair hurts sales," of new phones, said Nathan Proctor, who leads the Right to Repair campaign at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. "Apple has an incentive to restrict repair of their devices."
  • In a different filing, Gay Gordon-Byrne, the executive director of the Right to Repair Coalition, said that while one option would be for right to repair advocates to go to court, the coalition's members "will be best served through legislation" addressing the issue, since litigation is time-consuming and expensive.

What they're saying: ""We want to make sure our customers always have confidence their products will be repaired safely and correctly, and in a way that supports recycling," said an Apple spokesperson in a statement. "We are continually growing our network of certified technicians and most recently announced that any Best Buy store in the U.S. is now an authorized service provider."

The big picture: The House Judiciary Committee antitrust subcommittee's inquiry into the market power of major tech platforms is one of many such proceedings in Washington.

  • The Federal Trade Commission launched a tech task force and last week, the Department of Justice said it was carrying out its own wide-ranging investigation.
  • Competitors and critics of the tech companies have the opportunity to shape the probes, steering regulators towards their specific concerns.

Go deeper

Michigan board certifies Biden's win

Poll workers count absentee ballots in Detroit, Michigan on Nov. 4. Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers certified the state's election results on Monday, making President-elect Joe Biden's win there official and granting him the state's 16 electoral votes.

Why it matters: Republican Party leaders had unsuccessfully appealed to delay the official certification, amid the Trump campaign's failed legal challenges in key swing states.

Biden to nominate Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary

Photo: Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is preparing to nominate former Fed Chair Janet Yellen as his Treasury Secretary, four people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Yellen, 74, will bring instant economic celebrity to Biden’s team and, if confirmed, she will not only be the first female Treasury Secretary but also the first person to have held all three economic power positions in the federal government: the chair of Council of Economic Advisers, the chair of Federal Reserve and the Treasury Secretary.

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Bob Nelsen on AstraZeneca and his plan to revolutionize biotech

AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford on Monday reported promising efficacy data for their COVID-19 vaccine, which has less stringent storage requirements than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and may be distributed earlier in developing countries.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the state of vaccine and therapeutics manufacturing with Bob Nelsen, a successful biotech investor who on Monday launched Resilience, a giant new pharma production platform that he believes will prepare America for its next major health challenges.