The right to repair bill signed into law by New York
Kathy Hochul, governor of New York, signed the Digital Fair Repair Act on December 28, 2022; the law’s effective date is July 1, 2023. Consumers and third-party repair shops will be guaranteed access to OEM service documentation, schematics, diagnostic tools, and replacement components under this proposed legislation. Despite the best efforts of right to repair proponents, the measure was seriously watered down at the eleventh hour by modifications that grant original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) several easy exceptions and loopholes to escape commitments.
One of the most contentious changes in the final bill is the option for original equipment manufacturers to offer complete systems rather than individual parts. The measure also exempts original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) from having to supply “passwords, security codes, or documents” to unlock a gadget that is otherwise functioning OK.
Louis Rossmann, a repair expert and staunch supporter of robust right to repair legislation, argues that this renders the law “functionally useless.” Today, Rossmann released a video in which he provided a thorough examination and criticism of the revised bill.
Rossman called the change Hochul claims the measure was altered to make to reduce the risk of physical harm or security issues while performing repairs “bullshit,” and he expects manufacturers to use it to get around the intent of the bill.
The word “digital electronic equipment” used in the law is intentionally vague so as to cover a wide range of potential eligible gadgets. However, it doesn’t apply to things like off-road vehicles, medical devices, home appliances, or motor vehicles. Enterprise devices used in institutional settings like schools, hospitals, and data centres are also exempt, according to iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens’s blog post.
The governor’s memorandum also mentions another major change: the expansion (or lack thereof) of legal protection for historically significant equipment. The memo implies that the right to repair protections won’t apply to anything made before the bill’s implementation date, July 1, 2023, because coverage only applies to gadgets “manufactured for the first time as well as sold or used in New York for the first time” on that date. Before we can make any definitive judgements, we need to examine the final, updated measure in its entirety.
Despite this, many of the bill’s backers are rejoicing because it was finally passed after years of struggle. In a statement, Nathan Proctor, the senior right to repair campaign director at the US Public Interest Research Group, said:
“I’ve pushed for repair reforms in dozens of states, and been told by industry lobbyists that we’d never see a floor vote, that we’d never pass a bill, that a governor would never sign it. And while it’s not everything we wanted, it’s the first of its kind in the nation, and just the start.”
There are other states that have passed “right to repair” legislation before New York. Although not the first bill of its kind to become law, it is the one with the widest scope. The efforts to pass laws have also helped. Some businesses’ positions on right to repair shifted in anticipation of the New York bill, and now places like Google and Samsung are selling phone parts on iFixit. Both Apple and Microsoft have conducted internal research into how to make it easier to fix their products, with Apple leasing out large repair kits to customers who prefer to do their own maintenance.