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California Governor signs landmark digital right to repair bill into law

Consumer Reports praises new law that provides Californians with the right to repair their digital devices

Sacramento, CA — California Governor Gavin Newsom today signed a groundbreaking digital right to repair bill (Senate Bill 244) into law today. The bill will require electronics and appliance manufacturers to provide parts, tools, and documentation to both independent repair shops and product owners. 

California is now the third state in the country to enact a digital right to repair law. The digital right to repair law is the strongest of its kind, paving the way for additional states to follow suit in providing their citizens with the right to fix their electronic devices by a repair servicer of their choosing rather than being forced to go through the device manufacturer.

Justin Brookman, director of tech policy at Consumer Reports, said, “This historic law will save Californians money, provide more convenient repair options, and cut down on waste. There is a growing movement to give consumers the right to fix their devices, or take them to the repair shop they choose, and now the most populated state in the nation has joined the movement. The impact could be felt far beyond the state of California, as more states and Congress consider the right to repair. We congratulate Governor Newsom for signing this critical bill into law that will extend new repair rights to nearly 40 million California residents.”

Consumer Reports advocates testified at hearings in favor of this bill, and they worked closely with California legislators to help improve and advance the legislation. Thousands of CR members in California contacted their Assembly and Senate members to urge them to vote “yes,” and called the Governor’s office to encourage him to sign the bills into law. 

Right to repair legislation continues to gain support throughout the country as manufacturers have made it difficult to make simple repairs on their expensive devices, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. These manufacturers have restricted access to basic diagnostic information, tools, and replacement parts needed to make repairs. These tactics force consumers to rely on the manufacturer or its hand-picked servicers. Without competition and choice, repair costs get inflated. In some cases, the manufacturer even refuses to repair the product at all, forcing the consumer to throw it away and buy a new one. 

CR has long supported the right to repair and has drafted model legislation which helped shape this California law, as well as legislation in other states and Congress. CR has also incorporated the right to repair into the Digital Standard, a set of best practices that CR uses to evaluate the privacy and security of software, digital platforms and services, and internet-connected products, as well as to help influence the design of these products. 

California joins Minnesota and New York as one of only three states to sign a digital right to repair law.

Governor Newsom had earlier vetoed a wheelchair right to repair bill that CR also supported. We look forward to working with California policymakers to address concerns and advance similar legislation in the future.