New York governor signs new right to repair law, but advocates say it’s toothless
The “right to repairThe movement scored a victory on Wednesday, when New York Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul made her statement the first in the United States to establish that customers have a right to diagnostic tools, parts and documentation from device manufacturers to fix their devices, but right-to-repair advocates say the move will have limited impact.
The new law, called the Digital Fair Repair Act, is due to take effect July 1 and requires manufacturers to provide “materials such as manuals and schematics, and tools such as diagnostics and parts” to consumers for many electronic devices, excluding items such as household appliances, vehicles and medical equipment.
Hochul said in a statement late Wednesday that the legislation “as written included technical issues that could endanger safety and security. So she struck a deal with the New York legislature that allows device makers to supply “part assemblies,” meaning companies won’t be forced to sell individual components that may cost less. , but may instead sell an “assembly”, such as a printed circuit board with chips included, for a higher price. Companies will also be allowed to shield any security circumvention tool from the public.
“As technology and smart devices become increasingly essential to our daily lives, consumers should be able to easily repair the devices they rely on in a timely manner,” Hochul added in its statement, posted on the website of his office and share with local journalists.
The decision marks a step forward for advocates who hoped New York would help establish strong consumer protections under the first U.S. right to repair bill. In theory, according to right-to-repair advocates, consumers should be able to obtain manuals, parts and tools from manufacturers to repair their own devices, rather than having to rely on expensive technicians trained by the device manufacturers themselves. The result will hopefully allow customers to keep their products working for longer, while keeping e-waste out of landfills.
Indeed, the New York League of Conservation Voters called Hochul’s signing “another environmental victory for the state,” in a statement. Consumer Reports also cited hope the law would reduce waste, saying in a statement, “When your appliance is down, you should have more options than expensive service or the landfill.”
In practice, however, Consumer Reports and other advocates have noted that companies have pushed back against the bill, arguing that only certain parts and documentation should be made public.
Proponents such as iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens — which sells parts and tools and creates documentation on how to repair devices — have noted that last-minute changes to New York’s bill before its signature not only weaken protections for consumers, but also exclude products. designed and used by schools, hospitals, universities and government agencies. He and Consumer Reports also criticized the bill for only applying to devices newly sold after July 1.
Still, though he’s disappointed the bill doesn’t do more, Wiens called the law a “huge win for consumers and a big step forward for the right to repair movement.” New York has set a precedent for other states to follow, and I hope to see more states pass similar legislation in the near future.”
Other states are considering similar legislation, and Massachusetts voters approved a repair law in 2020 that required automakers to license consumers access to vehicle diagnostic data.
Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft have meanwhile started making some parts for recent devices available for people who want to repair these gadgets.
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