There’s a common sentiment in literature that the real treasure is in the journey and the friends we made along the way, not the destination. And that’s how we’ve been reassuring ourselves every year since I first helped introduce Right to Repair legislation in the US in 2014. Though we watched bill after bill die in the legislature, we found a lot of treasure—from our EFF allies in legalizing cell phone unlocking to the analysts at the FTC who concluded last year that there’s “scant evidence” to support manufacturers’ arguments for repair restrictions.
This year, we’re closer than ever to the destination written on our tickets. The first electronics Right to Repair law in the country passed in New York, blowing away all expectations, and has already changed the world for the better. The proliferation of repair parts offered by major manufacturers, both through iFixit and their own networks has been a dream from my college days come true. And now, an incredible honor: an EFF award.
A decade after our first collaboration, I am thrilled to thank them for the honor. But, iFixit was never a solo endeavor. The Repair Movement is just that, a movement, not an individual tractor enthusiast in California. And I am only where I am today because of amazing organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation. This isn’t just my award—in fact, it belongs just as much to every iFixiter, fixer and petitioner, and even the award bestowers themselves.
The EFF is an incredible force for good and has been an instrumental collaborator in our work at iFixit. They stepped up and defended us when medical device manufacturers wanted us to remove critical hospital service manuals. Their pioneering work legalizing phone jailbreaking led the way to many repair exemptions, from tractors to refrigerators, that we have been able to win.
Corynne McSherry, EFF’s legal director, joined Repair.org at the very beginning when Right to Repair was just an idea, and their legal staff have worked shoulder to shoulder alongside us as we’ve introduced legislation in forty-something states. Cory Doctorow has been an indefatigable voice for hardware autonomy and competitive compatibility. Cindy Cohn has joined us the past few years in awarding CES Worst in Show to the baddest actors in the industry. Kit Walsh has led the legal charge against many of the abuses of Section 1201, and I’ve been honored to testify alongside her at a few too many Copyright Office proceedings.
There are hundreds, thousands more folk to thank and credit for the wins that this award represents. Small business owners willing to testify in hearings across the country, friends and colleagues like Elizabeth Chamberlain who wrote dozens of briefs, Sam Goldheart and Jeff Suovanen who have made repairability a household word, and iFixit community members who prove over and over that repair is safe, important, and good business all deserve thanks. More than thanks, they deserve the better world that iFixit, Repair.org, the EFF, and so many others are working to create. A world where everyone has the freedom to make, break, hack, and fix.
Our fight for a world where we control the things in our lives is just beginning. Keep carrying the fixer spirit, and thanks again to each and every one of you. As to your part of this EFF award—may it be a light of freedom to you in dark places.