New York governor signs right to repair bill after last-minute changes

A bill requiring electronics manufacturers to provide replacement parts, tools and documentation to independent stores and appliance owners is now in effect in New York.

Democratic Governor 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 died.

The governor did so after securing approval from the legislature on significant amendments to the law. As shared in a tweet from WNYC reporter Jon Campbell(Opens in a new window)changes include:

  • eliminate the requirement for manufacturers to provide all security unlock codes needed to repair a device;

  • allow manufacturers to supply “part assemblies” instead of specific components if they believe “the risk of improper installation increases the risk of injury”;

  • excluding products manufactured solely 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 leave “room for improvement” in the law.

New York Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy (D-Albany), who sponsored the state House version of the bill, called(Opens in a new window) his passing “a historic victory that will hopefully spur more action”.

Louis Rossman, a bill advocate who runs a MacBook repair shop(Opens in a new window)seemed much less happy in a concise and profane YouTube video(Opens in a new window) posted after seeing Hochul’s amendments. The bill has been “modified and watered down” to the point of rendering it “functionally useless”, he said.

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The passage of the Digital Fair Repair Act marks one of the greatest successes to date in the United States in defending the “right to repair”, stimulated by manufacturers who make devices that are difficult or impossible to repair by third. It also drew attention in Washington, where the Federal Trade Commission released a report last year that found “little evidence to support manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions,” but a bill introduced last year in the House came to nothing.

Some manufacturers have taken recent steps to make DIY repairs easier. Apple, long known for making repair-resistant devices, opened an online iPhone repair kit store in April and expanded it to select MacBook parts in August. Samsung launched a partnership with iFixit this summer to sell certified parts for select Galaxy smartphones and tablets. And Google rolled out its own iFixit collaboration for Pixel phones this summer, allowing me to replace my broken Pixel 5a screen at home and for far less than I would have paid at a repair store.

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