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New York's new 'Right to Repair' law provides more options for repairing digital devices

Technician repairing broken smartphone on desk
Kilian Seiler
The Digital Fair Repair Act makes New York the first state in the nation to guarantee the right for consumers and independent repair shops to fix broken electronic devices.

New York has become the first state in the country to enact a digital ‘right to repair’ law.

The legislation signed this week by Gov. Kathy Hochul, the Digital Fair Repair Act, will give consumers in New York the right to have their electronic devices fixed by an independent repair shop, rather than being forced to go through the company that makes the device.

The legislation requires original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) 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 the OEM authorized repair providers and servicers.

Consumer Reports magazine praises the new legislation and its programs director, Chuck Bell, said that it’s important for consumers to have that independent option when it comes to repairing these kinds of items.

“We need that right to be available for people who have digital electronic devices,” said Bell. “Smartphones and computers are quite expensive and a lot of times the manufacturers have made it quite difficult for independent repair shops to get access to the protocols and plans for those devices”

Bell added that the new legislation can also benefit the environment, if it reduces the number of electronic devices that are tossed out because people don’t want to deal with the cost of repairs.

“If consumers can extend the life of their devices, they can both save money and help protect the environments we have in New York each year about 656,000 tons of electronic waste that goes to landfills. And we should be able to divert a substantial part of that waste stream if consumers have the right to repair,” said Bell.

The legislation approved this week will only apply to digital devices that are sold or used in New York state after July 1, 2023.

Gov. Hochul said that the new Digital Fair Repair Act will help consumers maximize the lifespan of their devices, saving money and reducing electronic waste.

Rochester area Congressman Joe Morelle (D-25) has proposed similar legislation on the federal level.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.