New York State passes a right-to-repair bill

The Digital Fair Repair Act will make it easier for you to choose who repairs your devices.

Aziz Taher / reuters

New York has just passed the digital fair repair act (Assembly Bill A7006B), making it one of just a few states in the US to do so. The bill, which was introduced in April 2021, passed the senate on June 1st and passed assembly today. It's now headed to the governor for signing (or veto), and will take effect a year after it becomes law.

The act, titled "Digital Fair Repair Act," will require OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to "make diagnostic and repair information for digital electronic parts and equipment available to independent repair providers and consumers if such parts and repair information are also available to OEM authorized repair providers." That means companies can no longer dictate where you can bring your devices to get them repaired by limiting the access to components or diagnostic information.

If a part is no longer available to the OEM, it will not need to make the same part available to everyone. For things that require security-related locks or authorizations, the OEM has to, "on fair and reasonable terms," supply the tools or documentation needed to access or reset such devices "through appropriate secure release systems."

The amended version of the bill also states that the proposed requirements will apply to "products with a value over ten dollars" and that OEMs or authorized repair providers don't have to make available any parts, tools or documentation if the intended use is for modification of the products. It also excludes public safety communications equipment and "home appliances with digital electronics embedded within them" from the act. Given the way companies have been trending towards making smart fridges, washing machines and more, this could potentially be an enormous loophole or at the very least exclude a large number of products.

Massachusetts previously passed its own Digital Right to Repair Act, which covered parts or machines containing microprocessors. The state has recently expanded that to include connected automobiles. Meanwhile, the California state Senate introduced its own right to repair bill in February, which appears to have bipartisan support.