A bill that would enable consumers to repair commonly used devices like smartphones and computers was given final approval by state lawmakers in New York on Thursday.
The measure will head to Gov. Kathy Hochul's desk for her approval.
The proposal, known as the Right to Repair Law, is meant to make it easier for consumers and repair shops to fix devices themselves, but cannot because of a lack of access to parts, manuals, diagnostic tools or hardware. The measure could help repair shops and spur hiring among these small businesses.
At the same time, the legislation's supporters hope the measure will help cut down on electronic waste and pollution as a result.
"The Digital Fair Repair Act puts consumers first, levels the playing field for independent repair shops, and reduces our e-waste footprint on the environment," said Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, who sponsored the measure with Sen Neil Breslin. "By requiring digital electronics manufacturers to allow access to critical information and parts required by independent, local repair shops to complete repairs on most products, this legislation ends what is a monopoly on the repair market by corporate actors and incentivizes competition within the industry. At the same time, we’d also help to reduce the 655,000 tons of toxic e-waste produced typically discarded in a single calendar year here in New York State."
The measure covers a range of devices that have microprocessors, like cellphones, tablets and other IT equipment. It does not include cars, heavy equipment and farm supplies, as well as police radios, gaming consoles and medical equipment.
It would require manufacturers to make repair materials, including parts, tools and service information, available to consumers and repair shops.
"This is a terrific win for consumers, local businesses and the environment," said Russ Haven, the NYPIRG general counsel. "New Yorkers just want to fix their stuff. We know that repair cuts waste and saves them money. But too many of the things we are trying to fix have unnecessary barriers because most of the top manufacturers won’t provide access to spare parts, repair software or service diagrams."