Secure Repairs (securepairs.org), an organization of cybersecurity and information technology professionals who support a legal right to repair, celebrates passage this week of California Senate Bill 244, the Right to Repair Act.
Secure Repairs sends its thanks and congratulations to California state Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman as well as CalPIRG, iFixit, and the Repair Coalition, state consumer and environmental advocacy groups and the many residents and small business owners who testified in favor of SB 244 before California lawmakers.
“Nothing says success like having the 5th largest economy in the world embrace robust consumer right to repair protections,” said Paul Roberts, the founder of Secure Repairs.
“From the Low Riders of East Los Angeles; to back yard garage start ups like HP and Apple Computer; to its tens of thousands of small, family owned businesses, the Golden State has long been a mecca for entrepreneurs, tinkerers and do-it-yourselfers. The passage of Senate bill 244 into law will ensure that Californian consumers and businesses will be able to benefit from a vibrant marketplace for repair and maintenance, fueled by ready access to the information, tools and parts to keep their technology running (or help others to do so.) In the long term, it ensures that the deep well of talent, expertise and entrepreneurial spirit that has enriched so many lives in the Golden State will not be sidelined by wrong-headed, anti-competitive and environmentally unfriendly business practices,” Roberts said.
With the passage of similar laws in New York and Minnesota, this latest victory in California means that states representing roughly 25% of US GDP have enacted broad electronics right to repair laws. And how this bill passed – -with votes of 39-0* in the Senate and 65-1 in the California Assembly- shows that the right to repair is an issue that enjoys broad and bipartisan support. As California has made even more evident: right to repair is an issue whose time has come.
As it has done throughout the country this year, Secure Repairs submitted written testimony in favor of Senate Bill 244 in April and attended a hearing in June to advocate for passage. We hope that our testimony helped dispel myths that access to repair information and tools somehow increase cyber risks. It does not.
As we have noted on numerous occasions, the kinds of information sought by such laws – schematic diagrams, service manuals, diagnostic software and administrative codes, replacement parts – do not figure in cyberattacks on connected devices. Rather, the vast majority of attacks on Internet connected devices like home routers, DVRs, webcams, and home appliances exploit software vulnerabilities in embedded software released by the manufacturer. Alternatively, hackers exploit weak configurations, like default administrative usernames and passwords that are common to devices and never changed, or wide-open and insecure communications ports that give remote hackers access to devices.
As longtime advocates for right to repair laws, we are heartened to see that California legislators looked past the hand-waving about cyber risk and data privacy, voting overwhelmingly to pass this critical consumer protection that will have an outsized impact on both Californian’s wallets and their environment. This is a great day for the great state of California.
Congratulations again to all those who worked to get The Repair Act passed. Onward!
Paul F. Roberts
Founder, Secure Repairs
(*) Correction: an earlier version of this statement misstated the final vote in the California Senate. It was 39-0, not 30-0. PFR 9/15/2023