New York adopts the first-ever 'right to repair' law for devices

New York adopts the first-ever ‘right to repair’ law for devices

The New York state legislature has passed the country’s first “right to repair” electronic bill. The Fair Repair Act would force all manufacturers who sell “digital electronic items” inside state borders to make repair tools, parts, and instructions available to customers as well as independent retailers.

It has cleared the legislature and is now awaiting Governor Kathy Hochul’s signature, who is anticipated to endorse it. The proposal will go into effect one year after it is signed into law.

The action follows years of federal pressure to safeguard customers’ rights to repair and refurbish purchased goods. President Joe Biden signed an executive order last year directing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce repair rights, which the incoming majority commissioners supported.

New York is not the first state to establish a right to repair measure, but it is the first to extend generally to electronics. A prior Massachusetts law focused on automotive data, and Colorado approved a bill earlier this year safeguarding maintenance rights for motorised wheelchairs. The New York measure does offer exceptions for home appliances, medical devices, and agricultural equipment, the latter of which has been a particular source of contention among advocates.

Nonetheless, the bill is likely to have an impact well beyond New York’s borders. Now that manufacturers selling items in New York are compelled to provide service instructions, the guides are expected to become widely available around the world. More intrusive software measures will also become impractical, perhaps resulting in significant changes in how devices are designed and maintained.

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