The New York State Senate has approved landmark Right to Repair legislation that requires original equipment manufacturers to provide schematics, parts, and tools to independent repair providers and consumers.
S4104, which advances the Digital Fair Repair Act, was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. In a virtual session, 51 senators approved the motion, with only 12 voting against.
Some distance remains before the bill finally becomes law. It must secure the approval of lawmakers in the lower house, the New York State Assembly, which is currently considering its own version of the bill (A7006).
The 2020 legislative session ended on Thursday. It is hoped that the A7006, which is currently being considered in committee, will be adopted during the 2021 session, which is due to meet on January 6, 2021.
Although not yet a law, the Senate’s approval of the bill has been interpreted as a victory for the Right to Reparation movement, which has won several crucial victories in recent months.
“By passing this bill, the New York Senate has proven that it is not afraid to oppose powerful interests by fighting for the right of all New Yorkers to repair and truly own their devices. “, commented Kerry Maeve Sheehan, head of US policy for iFixit.
“This is a major win for small repair businesses across the state, for the environment, for low income communities, and for anyone who just wants to be able to fix their things.”
Last November, voters in Massachusetts approved a referendum that would extend the right to repair to the auto industry. Coming into effect in 2022, the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act would allow independent repair shops to access critical telematics data needed to diagnose and resolve vehicle breakdowns.
The auto industry has fought vehemently against this bill, spending millions on a marketing campaign that shamelessly turned sensational. A series of splashy ads implied that the proposed legislation would make life easier for hackers in the hope of harming drivers, and in a heavily criticized and ultimately deleted video, the bill suggested. would be a gift horse to high-tech voyeurs.
This was obviously nonsense and voters rightly rejected it. Nonetheless, it illustrated the levels of pressure emanating from the sectors that most strongly oppose right to redress legislation.
In particular, the consumer tech industry has repeatedly confused the right to repair with piracy, suggesting to lawmakers that this would force US companies to release the source code of proprietary software, and ultimately undermine privacy and privacy. end user safety.
These arguments are wrong. A third-party engineer doesn’t need to see the macOS source code to replace a single faulty power management chip on a MacBook Pro. But for lawmakers concerned about the decline of American technological supremacy, these arguments are compelling, even if they are cut off from reality.
If New York lawmakers choose to revisit the S4104 and A7006 at the next sitting, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the same levels of spurious lobbying. ®