The New York State Legislature has passed the United States’ first “right to repair” law that pertains to electronics. called the fair repair act, the measure would require all manufacturers selling “digital electronic products” within state lines to make tools, parts and instructions for repair available to both consumers and independent stores.
After the legislature is passed, it awaits signature by Governor Kathy Hochul, who is expected to support the measure. The measure will take effect one year after the entry into force of the law.
Self-repair groups such as iFixit have welcomed the ruling, calling it “a giant leap for repair” in a post-announcement blog post.
“With the passage of this bill, repairs should become cheaper and more extensive: people who want to fix their own stuff can do that,” the message reads. “Where previously manufacturers could force consumers to use manufacturer-authorized stores, they now have to compete.”
The move comes after continued federal pressure to enforce consumers’ rights to repair and refurbish their purchased goods. Last year, President Joe Biden issued an executive order calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce repair rights, a move welcomed by incoming majority commissioners.
New York is not the first state to pass a law on the right to repair, but it is the first such law to broadly apply to electronics. A previous law in Massachusetts focused on automotive data, and earlier this year Colorado passed a law guaranteeing repair rights for: electric wheelchairs† The language of the New York bill includes exceptions for household appliances, medical devices, and agricultural equipment — the latest of which is a certain flash point for advocates.
Still, the law is likely to have an impact far beyond the borders of New York State. Now that manufacturers selling goods in New York are required to make repair manuals available, those manuals are likely to become available around the world soon. More invasive software measures will also become impractical, which could lead to wide-ranging changes in the way electronics are designed and maintained.