The passage of the Right to Repair bill could result in a national policy shift
By: Jon Keegan
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
New York’s passage of the nation’s first consumer electronics “right-to-repair” law represents a rare success for consumer groups and advocates who have fought a deep-pocketed industry-wide lobbying effort for years. The “Digital Fair Repair Act” easily passed on June 3 with a 147–2 vote in the New York State Assembly after passing the Senate two days earlier, and now awaits Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature.
The bill mandates that for most consumer electronics sold in New York State, manufacturers must offer free technical and repair documentation, free software for diagnostics, and replacement parts and repair tools at a reasonable cost for consumers and repair shops.
Finally, consumers should have a broader range of repair options for phones, tablets, and computers.
“This bill is very strong. It provides information, parts, and tools—everything you need for a robust repair economy,” wrote repair website iFixit’s CEO and right-to-repair advocate Kyle Wiens in an email to The Markup.
Consumer advocates have been pressuring electronics manufacturers for years to allow for convenient, cheap repairs. As mobile devices have grown more complex, they have become harder to disassemble—often requiring expensive proprietary tools—and original parts are often not available to smaller repair shops. The result is that manufacturers have had a de facto monopoly on repair service and parts.
Jessa Jones, the owner of iPadRehab, an independent electronics repair shop in Honeoye, N.Y., said, “The win is that we will be able to order and replace some common parts that are serialized and paired to the device function,” referring to manufacturers’ prohibitive software restrictions that ensure only authorized parts are used.
Notably, the bill, which goes into effect one year from the date of the governor’s signature, excludes farm equipment such as tractors, medical devices, appliances, and motor vehicles. Each of these categories has been the subject of some of the earliest and loudest calls for new laws, as well as a massive lobbying…