New York Senate Passes “Right of Reparation” Bill
The New York State Senate has just delivered a loophole in Apple’s armor.
New York’s legislature on Thursday passed the Digital Fair Repair Act. It requires “original equipment manufacturers” (OEMs) to put all the information and resources necessary to repair devices for sale to third-party repair shops and consumers.
“Nothing prevents third-party repairers from being technically competent to complement digital
repairs other than the lack of information hidden by the manufacturers, ”says the bill.
Currently, companies with high-end proprietary devices and software often limit who is authorized to repair these products to the device manufacturers themselves and to “authorized” third parties. the movement “right to repair” has been fighting this standard for years so people can fix devices more cheaply, keep them longer, and generate less waste.
OEMs want to keep control of the repair market. Companies like Apple say it’s for the purpose of maintaining the integrity of a device, so that shoddy workmanship doesn’t compromise a product’s functionality. However, as the bill points out, it also gives them what some call monopoly control over the pipeline. And by limiting repair options, it also encourages consumers to buy more new products, more frequently.
“In too many cases, repairs to digital items are intentionally limited by the manufacturer,” read a memo accompanying the bill. “Manufacturers will require consumers to pay for repair services exclusively through their repair division or manufacturer-approved repair providers. The practices of the manufacturers essentially create a monopoly on these repair services.
licensed channels result in inflated and high repair prices, poor or no service in rural areas, and unnecessarily high turnover rates for electronic products.
Bills like New York’s have popped up across the country, but it’s the first of its kind to go through a legislative body. Microsoft and a company hired by Apple presses against a similar bill from 2018, and there is intense lobbying in progress on a Nevada “Right of Repair” bill. Part of what makes this a big problem is that this bill was passed against such a well-funded opposition.
It could also force companies like Apple to share confidential information they really don’t want. This includes the software – not just the hardware – and how to reprogram electronic locks. The bill clarifies that this does not include “trade secrets”.
The next step is to have a version of the bill go through the State Assembly and then be enacted by the governor. Considering he’s passed 51 for and 12 against in the State Senate, there’s a good chance the right to redress will become law in New York City.