A bill requiring electronics manufacturers to provide repair parts, tools, and documentation to independent shops and device owners is now law in New York.
Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the Digital Fair Repair Act(Opens in a new window) on Wednesday night—more than six months after it passed the state legislature, and the last possible day to do so before the bill would have died.
The governor did so after securing the legislature’s sign-off on significant amendments to the statute. As shared in a tweet by WNYC reporter Jon Campbell(Opens in a new window), the changes include:
eliminating a requirement that manufacturers provide any security unlocking codes needed to repair a device;
allowing manufacturers to provide “assemblies of parts” instead of specific components if they think “the risk of improper installation heightens the risk of injury”;
excluding products made only for business and government sales.
“Huzzah!” iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens wrote at the start of a blog post celebrating the news(Opens in a new window), though he noted later in the post that the governor’s changes left “room for improvement” to the law.
New York Assembly member Patricia Fahy (D-Albany), who sponsored the state house version of the bill, called(Opens in a new window) its passage “a landmark win that will hopefully spur more action.”
Louis Rossman, an advocate for the bill who runs a MacBook repair shop(Opens in a new window), sounded far less happy in a pithy, profane YouTube video(Opens in a new window) posted after he learned of Hochul’s amendments. The bill was “edited and watered down” so much to make it “functionally useless,” he said.
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The Digital Fair Repair Act’s passage marks one of the biggest successes to date in the US of “Right to Repair” advocacy—spurred by manufacturers making devices that are difficult or impossible for third parties to repair. It’s also drawn attention in Washington, where the Federal Trade Commission issued a report last year finding “scant evidence to support manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions,” but a bill introduced last year in the House went nowhere.
Some manufacturers have made recent moves of their own to ease DIY repairs. Apple, long notorious for making repair-proof devices, opened an online store for iPhone repair kits in April and expanded it to some MacBook parts in August. Samsung launched a partnership with iFixit to sell certified parts for certain Galaxy smartphones and tablets this summer. And Google set up its own iFixit collaboration for Pixel phones this summer—allowing me to replace the shattered screen of my Pixel 5a at home and for much less than I would have paid at a repair store.
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