The battle for the right to repair won a landslide victory on Friday, when the state of New York passed a bill requiring digital electronics manufacturers, such as laptop and smartphone manufacturers, to make diagnostic and repair information available to consumers and independent garages.
The bill, which was passed in the New York Senate (49 to 1[ads1]4) on Wednesday and in the House (145 to 1) today, passes the Digital Fair Repair Act. Gov. Kathy Hochul must sign the bill before it is passed, but spokesmen, such as iFixit, said they do not expect obstacles there.
In particular, the bill does not apply to medical equipment, household appliances, agricultural and terrain equipment or communication equipment for public safety. But advocates for the right to repair also keep an eye on these areas. The bill also does not cover motor vehicles.
Companies that sell covered technology products in New York will be required to distribute information, software, tools and parts so that individuals and independent repairers can repair personal devices on their own. iFixit said they expect this to take effect by 2023.
More specifically, the bill states:
“Requires OEMs to make available, for diagnosis, maintenance or repair, for any independent repairer, or for the owner of digital electronic equipment manufactured by or on behalf of, or sold by, OEM, on fair and reasonable terms, documentation, parts and tools, including any information updates. Nothing in this section requires an OEM to make a part available if the part is no longer available to OEM. and independent repairers, on fair and reasonable terms, all special documentation, tools and parts necessary to access and reset the lock or function when it is deactivated during the diagnosis, maintenance, or repair of the equipment. and parts may be made available through appropriate secure release systems. “
Combating “monopolistic practices”
The bill successfully argued that it would help protect against “monopolistic practices of digital electronics manufacturers,” caused by the withholding of repair and diagnostic information. This forced consumers to rely on product manufacturers and their authorized repair suppliers. According to a blog post by iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens today, 59 percent of independent garages in California recently reported fears of closure without the right to repair.
“Nothing prevents third-party repairers from being technically competent to carry out digital repairs other than the lack of information withheld by manufacturers,” the bill states. “In too many cases, repairs of digital objects are intentionally limited by the manufacturer.”
The bill also points to “inflated, high repair prices, poor service or non-existent service in rural areas, and unnecessarily high turnover rates for electronic products” as justification for the legislation.
E-waste was also a driving force behind the bill, as well as the general struggle for the right to repair. In a statement, New York City Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy said the bill would “help reduce the 655,000 tons of toxic e-waste produced. [and] usually discarded during a single calendar year here in the state of New York. “
In its announcement, the New York State Assembly pointed to a study conducted by the US Public Interest Group which found that the average New York family would save around $ 330 per year and reduce electronic waste by 22 percent with the right to repair.
Beyond Empire State
While advocates for the right to repair achieved a remarkable victory, much more legislation is required before the law extends across the country and product categories.
In its blog on Friday, iFixits Wiens pointed out the impact the adoption of the law is expected to have around the world. First, management hopes that manufacturers will make repair manuals open to everyone, not just New Yorkers.
Vienna also expressed hope for software protection outside New York.
“New York law includes provisions for resetting the software locks that some manufacturers use to attach parts to the device’s motherboard or serial number. Manufacturers need to find a way to make parts pairing reset tools available to the public. It’s a great benefit for repair, but it helps also the refurbishment industry: Many refurbishers harvest parts from old devices, which is impossible when these devices have parts paired to the motherboard, “said Wiens, noting related infrastructure challenges facing vendors.
Ars recently spoke with Vienna, which discussed the biggest challenges and events in the fight for the right to repair, including the need for federal involvement. You can check out our interview to the right to repair with iFixit’s CEO here.