The state legislature in New York has passed the United States’ first “right to repair” bill that covers electronics. The measure, called the Fair Repair Act, will require all manufacturers selling “digital electronic products” within state borders to make tools, parts and repair instructions available to both consumers and independent stores.
After adopting the legislature, it is awaiting the signature of Governor Kathy Hochul, who is expected to support the measure. The measure enters into force one year after it has been adopted.
Self-repair groups like iFixit have applauded the ruling, calling it “a giant leap for repair” in a blog post after the announcement.
“The adoption of this bill means that repairs should be cheaper and more comprehensive: people who want to fix their own things can,” the post said. “Where before manufacturers could force consumers to use manufacturer-authorized stores, now they have to compete.”
The move comes after persistent federal pressure to enforce consumers’ rights to repair and refurbish their purchased goods. Last year, President Joe Biden issued an executive order asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce repair rights, a move that was applauded by incoming Majority Commissioners.
New York is not the first state to adopt a bill to repair the bill, but it is the first such bill to apply to electronics broadly. An earlier Massachusetts law focused on car data, and earlier this year Colorado passed a bill securing repair rights for electric wheelchairs. The language of the New York bill includes exceptions for household appliances, medical equipment and agricultural equipment – the latter having been a particular hotspot for advocates.
Nevertheless, the law is likely to have an impact far beyond New York’s borders. Now that manufacturers selling goods in New York are required to make repair manuals available, it is likely that these manuals will quickly become available around the world. More invasive software measures will also be impractical, which can lead to major changes in how electronics are designed and maintained.