Today, the fight for our right to repair everything we own just scored a huge victory: the US state of Minnesota just passed the broadest-yet Right to Repair law. And it should benefit everyone around the world.
The bill, signed today by Governor Walz, applies to all electronics, with a handful of cherry-picked exceptions—no farm equipment, video game consoles, specialized cybersecurity tools, motor vehicles, or medical devices. But smartphones? Check. Laptops? Check. Televisions, washing machines, tablets, fablets, refrigerators, smart watches, smart home devices, electronic toys, blenders, smart sneakers, servers, networking equipment, that weird device that analyzes your pee and sends the data to the cloud? Check, check, check… and yup, check.
If it’s got electronics and it’s not on the pretty small list of exclusions, manufacturers have to provide all Minnesotans the same parts, tools, and documentation they make available to their own repair providers. This law will level the playing field for independent repair shops in Minnesota for all kinds of things. And it’ll make DIY repair more accessible than ever.
But most exciting for everyone outside Minnesota: Manufacturers must make repair and service documentation freely available. Free as in “free beer”—no cost at all.
The French repair index inspired real change last year when it gave manufacturers points for putting repair documentation online. Lots of manufacturers put repair guides on the internet for the first time ever. Expect to see the same when Minnesota’s bill goes into effect next year.
“The repair revolution arrived in Minnesota today!” said Kyle Wiens, iFixit CEO. “Now independent repair shops can compete, and everyone who wants can fix things themselves. With online documentation, people everywhere in the world—not just in Minnesota—will benefit from this. Manufacturers, get ready. Everyone else, get fixing.”
This law will go into effect on July 1, 2024, and apply to anything produced after July 1, 2021. That retroactive application is just one of many ways it’s more powerful than the electronics law that passed in New York with some disappointing compromises at the end of last year.
This bill improves upon the New York law in several other ways: It includes business-to-business and business-to-government sales, meaning that schools with ailing Chromebooks or file servers should be able to get them fixed. Circuit boards are included, meaning that, as long as manufacturers are replacing boards at their own shops, everyone else should be able to as well. They can’t get out of providing parts by combining them into assemblies by falsely claiming a safety risk. And independent shops don’t have to post any fear-mongering disclaimers about warranties.
Of course, this is not a perfect bill. Every bill includes compromises. We wish this bill applied to even more products. There’s a confusing exemption for certain cybersecurity tools provided to national defense organizations like the NSA. We wish that it applied to all parts, not just ones that manufacturers make available to their own shops. And wouldn’t it be nice if manufacturers were required to keep selling parts even after they stop their own repair services? Things don’t stop needing to be fixed when the manufacturer’s service network moves on. But make no mistake: This bill is a huge victory—one of the biggest yet for the Right to Repair movement.
iFixit has been fighting for Right to Repair laws for over a decade with our allies at PIRG and Repair.org. We applaud Minnesota’s progress in enacting this comprehensive law, which is a huge step toward a future in which you can fix everything you own.
To support Right to Repair near you, find your local advocacy network here.