The world’s first comprehensive right to repair bill has finally been signed into law by New York Governor Kathy Hochul, over six months after it passed the legislature nearly unanimously. Huzzah!
This groundbreaking legislation will give consumers and independent shops equal access to the parts and information they need to fix electronic products. Manufacturers will no longer be able to limit part sales and documentation availability to their own repair services. Consumers will have more choice over how they repair their products.
“New York leads the nation again—today, the United States’ first right to repair bill, the Digital Fair Repair Act, was signed into law—putting consumers first, leveling the playing field for independent repair shops, and reducing our e-waste footprint on the environment,” said bill sponsor Assemblymember Patricia Fahy of Albany.
This law will give New Yorkers more control over their electronic devices and make repairs more affordable. It’s also a win for the environment, reducing e-waste and helping advance the state’s plans to fight climate change.
iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens was thrilled: “This is a huge victory for consumers and a major 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 passing similar legislation in the near future.”
This law applies to virtually all electronic equipment that manufacturers can repair through existing service channels. The bill excludes some sectors such as appliances, security alarms, motor vehicles, medical devices, farm equipment, outdoor power equipment, power tools, industrial electrical equipment, and e-bikes. Many other states are considering Right to Repair legislation that would protect those product categories, including the powered wheelchair Right to Repair law that goes into effect in Colorado on January 1.
A New Hope
Gay Gordon-Byrne, New Yorker and Executive Director of the Repair Association, said, “This is a great day for New York and the world. New York has stood up to the biggest of the big tech oligarchs and delivered a resounding blow to block their repair monopolies. This war for repair access is being fought around the world, and this first victory is historic.”
She was especially appreciative of the coalition that made this happen. “Heartfelt thanks and congratulations to the bill sponsors, Assemblymember Pat Fahy and Senator Neil Breslin, Committee Chairs Senator Kevin Thomas and Assemblymember Nily Rozic for their commitment and leadership. This was a true coalition effort and proof that David can win against Goliath.” Rep. Pat Fahy, Senator Neil Breslin, and their staff overcame hugely powerful and aggressive opposition and achieved a major victory for their constituents and the world.
Nathan Proctor of PIRG was quick to praise the efforts of the grassroots repair network. “I am incredibly proud of our scrappy coalition of tinkerers, fixers, repair shops, DIYers, and consumer and environmental advocates which continues to stand up to the most powerful manufacturers in the world. We’re grateful for our terrific legislative champions, Asm. Pat Fahy and Sen. Neil Breslin. We will continue to push for Right to Repair because it’s an idea whose time has come.”
Some Challenges Remain
Although advocates are enthusiastic to see the nation’s first broad electronics Right to Repair law, the bill leaves room for improvement. After extensive lobbying by electronics manufacturers represented by TechNet, an industry lobbying association, Governor Hochul made a number of changes that weakened the language passed by the legislature. The revised language excludes enterprise electronics relied on by schools, hospitals, universities, and data centers. It also excludes products that consumers already own and applies only to newly manufactured devices. We expect other states to rapidly adopt legislation that closes these loopholes.
This law will benefit consumers all over the world, not just in New York. Manufacturers will not want to ignore the New York market–if New York State were an independent nation, it would rank as the tenth-largest economy in the world. There is precedent for local laws impacting global markets; when the French repairability index was implemented, some electronics manufacturers made repair manuals freely available online for the first time. Other environmentally-friendly laws in Europe have also benefited consumers around the world. The RohS directive is widely credited for removing lead from consumer electronics.
Similarly, we expect manufacturers to adapt quickly to apply the New York law nationwide by posting service documentation online and selling repair parts. So far this year, Apple, Google, Valve, and Samsung have rolled out parts programs that will help them comply with this new law.
This law will apply to all products sold after July 1, 2023.
We encourage all New Yorkers to take advantage of this new law and explore your options for repairing your electronic devices. And around the world, repair advocates must keep fighting to secure the Right to Repair for everything we own.