February 3, 2023

Money News PH

The Premier Blog Where Money Talks

New York violates right to fix bills as it’s written into law

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the Digital Fair Repair Act into law on December 28, 2022, and the law will go into effect on July 1, 2023 — a full year after it was originally passed by the New York state legislature. The bill establishes that consumers and independent repair providers have the right to obtain manuals, diagrams, diagnostics and parts from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to repair their own devices. However, the bill has been meaningfully compromised with last-minute changes that offer OEMs some convenient exemptions and loopholes to shirk obligations that many right-to-repair advocates had hoped for.

One of the most controversial adjustments to the signed law is that it allows OEMs to sell assemblies of parts instead of individual components if they choose. The bill also doesn’t require OEMs to provide “passwords, security codes or materials” to bypass security features, which is sometimes required to salvage a locked but otherwise functional device.

Hochul claims in her signed memorandum that the bill was amended to reduce the risk of physical harm or safety issues during repairs, a change Rossman calls “bullshit” and expects manufacturers to circumvent the spirit of the law.

The bill casts a wide net on the entitlement of protected devices by using the term “digital electronic devices”. However, certain industries are exempt altogether, including home appliances, automotive, medical equipment, and off-road equipment. Corporate devices that schools, hospitals and data centers rely on are also exempt, iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens wrote in a statement on the company blog.

Another big change referenced in the governor’s memorandum concerns which historical devices are covered by law — or the complete lack of them. The memo states that July 1, 2023 is the date that equipment “first manufactured and first sold or used in New York” is eligible for coverage, meaning the right to repair protection expires for nothing shall be made prior to the effective date of the bill. We have yet to see the full text of the final amended bill for a full analysis.

Still, many of the bill’s supporters are celebrating after years of fighting for the law to pass. Nathan Proctor, senior right to repair campaign director at the US Public Interest Research Group, said in a statement:

“I have pushed for repair reforms in dozens of states and have been told by industry lobbyists that we would never see a vote on the floor, that we would never pass legislation, that a governor would never sign it. And while it’s not all we wanted, it’s the first of its kind in the nation and just the beginning.”