New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Digital Fair Repair Act on December 28th, 2022. It will take effect on July 1st, 2023, a full year after the NY State Assembly first approved it. The legislation declares that customers and independent repair companies can get manuals, schematics, and diagnostics.
Additionally, components from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) so they may fix their gadgets. However, revisions that provide OEMs certain practical exemptions and escape clauses that many supporters of the right to repair had been looking for at the last minute significantly damaged the measure.
New: Gov. Hochul has signed the “right to repair” law — with the Legislature agreeing to a number of changes, as outlined in her approval message. pic.twitter.com/GUBExlj5BD
One of the most contentious changes in the signed law is that it permits OEMs to offer parts assemblies rather than single components. Additionally, the law won’t mandate OEMs to offer “passwords, security codes or materials” to circumvent security measures, occasionally required to save a locked but otherwise fully working gadget.
Louis Rossmann, a repairman and ardent supporter of the toothy right-to-repair legislation. Rossman claims that this renders the measure “functionally meaningless.” Today, Rossmann replied to the bill’s amendments with a video that was chock-full of in-depth analysis and critique.
Hochul asserts in her signed note that the bill was changed to reduce the possibility of physical damage or security concerns when performing repairs; Rossman labels this assertion “bullshit,” and she expects manufacturers to take advantage of it to violate the letter of the law.
The word “digital electronic equipment” used in the law does cast a wide net regarding the eligibility of protected gadgets. However, it completely excludes several sectors, such as off-road vehicles, medical gadgets, household appliances, and motor vehicles. In addition, according to a blog post by iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens, it also exempts corporate devices used by data centers, hospitals, and schools.
Gadgets were manufactured and sold in New York for the first time
Another significant change in the governor’s message is the legal protection afforded to historical devices or the utter absence thereof. The memo implies that right-to-repair protections won’t apply to anything created before the bill’s effective date by stating that gadgets “manufactured for the first time as well as sold or used in New York for the first time” become eligible for coverage on July 1st, 2023. For a thorough analysis, we still need to examine the exact language of the final modified law.
Not every state has adopted a right-to-repair statute, including New York. But the one that has been made the law so far is the broadest. Even the efforts to pass laws have had an impact. Several businesses changed their positions on the right to repair due to the impending New York bill. Along with brands including Google and Samsung decided to sell phone parts on iFixit. Microsoft also started in-house research to create more repairable devices. While Apple started renting out huge repair kits to consumers who wished to do repairs themselves.