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Governor Hochul (Still) Hasn’t Signed the Digital Fair Repair Act
The Digital Fair Repair Act, a bill approved in June of this year has reached a critical moment. Kathy Hochul, Governor of the 4th most populous state in the US, is either procrastinating or purposely trying to kill this electronics right to repair bill. Of the 1,000 bills that were voted through in the legislature, 256 have yet to get Hochul’s signature.
If the bill in question takes effect, it would require electronics manufacturers to make parts available for independent repair shops and keeps manufacturers from using software locks to stop repair. After letting the bill sit for more than six months, the Governor requested that the legislature deliver the bill to her last Friday. Hochul now has 10 days to either sign- or veto it. Failing to do one of those two things will result in the Digital Fair Repair Act becoming law at the end of the day on December 28th.
You’ve probably seen us mention this bill before, so why do we keep writing about it?
19 million people live in New York, which means this could have serious impact.
Prices are rising, and repair helps saves people money. In 2019 U.S. PIRG found that U.S. households spend $1,480 purchasing new electronic products per year.
The bill passed the New York Senate 59-4. Nothing about this legislation is controversial, and has been overwhelmingly approved by popularly elected lawmakers.
This isn’t even a full right to repair, yet the Governor has not signed. While the bill covers electronics, there were exceptions made for cars, medical devices, and industrial machinery like agricultural equipment.
So why hasn’t Hochul signed on?
Lobbying: We also know that lobbying plays a huge role in stopping right to repair legislation. The Governor’s office has been flooded by lobbyists representing moneyed interests from silicon valley. Speaking to Ars Technica, Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of the Repair Association, said that industry groups are pushing for late amendments favoring tech firms. Still, the bill’s sponsors would have to approve of those—or convince the governor to sign the bill without them. “It’s up to the sponsors at this point,” Byrne said.
Cyber Risk: Many people who oppose this legislation talk about how the legislation will allow cyber criminals free rein over our electronics – it’s not true. SecuRepairs (pron. Secure Repairs), an organization representing information security (cybersecurity) professionals who support the right to repair has said:
As the language of the bill makes clear: the Digital Fair Repair Act requires manufacturers that already provide repair information to their authorized repair providers to provide the same information to the owner of a covered device and independent repair providers they may wish to hire.
Looked at another way: manufacturers are arguing that they should be free to share repair information with their business partners, but withhold that same information from the actual owner of the device – all in the name of data privacy? That argument defies logic.
Here’s how you can help.
Send an email to Governor Hochul using this contact form. If you are a resident of New York, make sure to include that in your note. If you have friends that you want to share this with, send them this post.
You can copy and paste the text below for the contact form
Dear Governor Hochul,
I am writing to express my support for the Digital Fair Repair Act (S4104A/A07006). Now is the time for New York to enact an electronics right to repair for communities across the state. This law will save working families money, support small businesses, and help the environment. According to a study by the U.S. Public Interest Group (USPIRG), the average family in New York would save approximately $330 per year and reduce e-waste by 22 percent.
At your inauguration you said “I want people to believe in government again.” By signing the Digital Fair Repair Act, you can make government work by supporting a popular policy that makes technology more accessible, equitable, and environmentally friendly.
The State of New York has the potential to be a national leader for others to follow. I urge you to sign this landmark legislation.
Congress leans on FTC to police unfair repair restrictions: the $1.7 trillion federal government funding package making its way through Congress to prevent a government shutdown contains some good news for repair advocates: bill language directing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to “prioritize investigations and enforcement efforts that protect consumers from unfair acts limiting competition, specifically stemming from [car] manufacturers’ control over telematics systems.” As noted in an analysis published by The CAR Coalition, the language lays a promising groundwork for congressional action on automotive right to repair in the coming year.
Independent repair works: U.S. PIRG recently published survey results focused on independent repair shops.
98% of independent repair shops were able to make fixes to devices cheaper than manufacturers.
92% of independent repair shops were able to make fixes to devices that manufacturers wouldn’t
95% of independent repair shops support a right to repair.
Project Luna: Dell is working on a laptop design called Concept Luna that aims to be fully modular and repairable. The goal is to reduce waste and increase energy efficiency by making it easier to repair or replace individual parts instead of discarding the whole device. Dell also has a robot designed specifically for repairing the Luna laptop.
Future of medical devices bleak without repair: Companies selling software-imbedded devices, including medical implants, often do not support long-term use or repair, leading to users being left without access to their devices or services when the company shuts down or makes changes. This can be especially dangerous for people relying on devices for vision or pain management.1
Healthcare monopolies bad for repair: The US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have become more interested in healthcare consolidation caused by private equity. We know that healthcare monopolies hurt everyday people, like in Colorado where a power wheelchair monopoly has kept people from repairing their chairs.
Donut economics: Amsterdam is being lauded for its utilization of “donut economics.” While it has not fully achieved its goals overshooting its populations’ “ecological ceiling” it is hopeful it can trach its goals for its nearly one-million residents.
You can’t spell “FIGHT” without GIFT!(?)
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Give a gift subscription to our monthly or annual premium subscription and give the repair enthusiast in your life access to all our reporting, podcasts and special events…and take advantage of our New Year Offer: 23% off (23 for ‘23!)
Resources, Events, and Opportunities
Paid climate fellowship for graduate students: Applications are now open for the Climate + Community Project’s Summer 2023 Fellowship. They are looking for graduate students research climate and environmental topics – paying $45 an hour, 20 hours a week.
🎧 Podcast: Listen to this episode from our friends at the Restart Project.