In context: After years of having electronic device repairability eroded by anti-consumer design decisions and increasingly closed-off device and part ecosystems, things are finally beginning to turn around for consumers. Advocates for 'Right to Repair' -- a movement that says corporations aren't the only ones who should have access to repair information, parts, and tools -- have just achieved a major win.
It's been a long road, but the movement has successfully managed to push New York's Senate to bring a new bill to the floor -- and pass it. The bill in question, "Bill S4104A," has passed both New York's Senate and Assembly; the latter's voting just concluded today with a supermajority of 145 "Ayes" and just one "Nay."
So, what's next? As usual, S4104A still has to be delivered to the Governor's desk, where it will await a signature from Kathy Hochul. Assuming she does not veto the bill (an unlikely possibility), the Right to Repair movement will have another win under its belt.
You can read the full bill over on the New York Senate website. In short, however, bill S4104A requires equipment manufacturers to provide parts, tools, and information necessary to repair their various electronic devices to independent repair shops and individual owners. The companies must sell these items at rates that match the "most favorable" terms they already offer to so-called "authorized service providers."
Additionally, equipment makers cannot "Retaliate against or hinder" the ability of any authorized repair provider to sell parts, tools, or documentation to third-party repair shops or individuals. This is a key part of the bill, and it declaws companies that have been historically aggressive when it comes to punishing misbehaving ASPs. By "misbehaving" we, of course, mean any authorized service provider that dared to sell parts or schematics to third-party repair shops under the table.
Clarification: To be clear, not all electronic devices will fall under these rules. Several categories of machinery are exempt, including (but not limited to) medical tech, agricultural equipment (sorry, John Deere owners), and home appliances like washers or dryers.
If you live somewhere other than New York, don't be disheartened. By creating this legislation in one state, New York lawmakers are ensuring access across the country, if not the globe. Since companies aren't allowed to retaliate against ASPs for selling parts and tools to third parties, it would be challenging to stop those items from spreading to other areas.
Eventually, companies may be forced to choose between trying to stop repair necessities from spreading globally, and simply loosening their grip on the repair market. The latter might end up being the cheaper alternative in the long run.
We're fans of a good tear-down here at TechSpot, so we're happy to see this bill pass. If it means improved device longevity, happier consumers, and a thriving third-party device repair ecosystem, what's not to like?