Cracked screens, spills, and dead batteries happen. Through accidents or age, our electronics often break and need an experienced hand to repair them. However, manufacturers have often done a thorough job of ensuring consumers in need have to pay for their high-priced, exclusive repair services. The product design are shrouded in mystery and the parts hard to obtain, making home repairs hard and inhibiting even for independent professionals. The New York State Legislature has just passed a bill—known as the “Right to Repair” Act— aimed at dismantling this monopoly of information.
The bill, known as Senate Bill S4104A, has passed both houses of the legislature and now awaits the governor's signature. If signed, the law will require manufacturers of digital electronics to make non-trade secret diagnostic and repair information available to consumers as well as third-party repair retailers. These technicians are often skilled, they merely lack the closely guarded repair instructions held by the manufacturers. Consumers with know-how also struggle to find repair parts due to trade agreements whereby manufacturers strike exclusive bargains with the producers of parts.
The bill covers most “digital electronic equipment,” save for motor vehicles, home appliances, medical devices, public safety communications equipment, agriculture equipment, and off-road equipment. Once the bill becomes law, repair prices will hopefully fall due to the break-up of the almost monopolistic control of manufacturers. Third-party retailers will be able to enter the market and offer their services. While it is a New York law, the internet is largely universal, so consumers in other states are likely to benefit from the release of information. This important issue of consumer protection has recently gained federal traction too. Even Google, Apple, and Samsung are moving towards a more open informational model. In short, for New Yorkers, repairing your old phone is about to get easier.
The New York State Legislature has passed a “Right to Repair” Act, otherwise known as Senate Bill S4104A.
The law will require manufacturers of digital electronics to make parts, tools, and instructions available for purchase.