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New York Governor signs historic digital right to repair bill into law

Consumer Reports applauds Governor Hochul for signing the Digital Fair Repair Act, which will provide consumers with new rights when in need of repairs of their digital devices

Yonkers, NY — New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed the groundbreaking Digital Fair Repair Act (A7006B/S4104A) into law late last night. The signing of the bill makes New York the first state in the country to enact a digital right to repair law. The new law will give New York consumers the right to fix their electronic devices by a repair servicer of their choosing rather than being forced to go through the device manufacturer.

Marta Tellado, president and CEO of Consumer Reports, said, “This landmark law will save New Yorkers money, provide them with more convenient repair options, and cut down on waste. When your device is broken, you should have more options than a high-priced service or the landfill. The Digital Fair Repair Act will ensure that New York consumers have the choice to fix their own electronic products or have them fixed by a servicer they choose, including those independent of the manufacturer. We congratulate Governor Hochul for signing this key piece of legislation, which will extend new digital rights to millions of New Yorkers.”

Chuck Bell, advocacy program director for Consumer Reports, said, “New York is leading the way on the right to repair movement. It’s the first state in the country to protect consumer rights to repair their own digital devices or get them repaired at independent repair shops. Consumer Reports thanks the bill’s sponsors, Assembly Member Pat Fahy and Senator Neil Breslin, and Governor Kathy Hochul for their leadership in getting this important legislation past the finish line.” 

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. 

In order to secure final approval of the bill, the Governor and the legislature agreed to several technical amendments that narrow the scope of its provisions. For example, the bill will now only apply to digital devices that are sold or used in New York state after July 1, 2023. Many more devices would have been covered under the earlier draft of the bill. While CR is disappointed that manufacturers are resisting implementation, the Digital Fair Repair Act creates strong ground rules for improving competition in repair services, and is a very significant victory for consumers.

CR has long supported the right to repair. In addition to supporting the Digital Fair Repair Act in New York, CR is supporting the Fair Repair Act (HR 4006/S.3830) in Congress, and similar bills that are pending in states around the country. CR has 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. CR has also drafted model legislation, on which the Digital Fair Repair Act is based. 

According to a nationally representative survey by Consumer Reports in November-December 2021, 84% of Americans said they agreed with a policy to require manufacturers to make repair information and parts available either to independent repair professionals or to product owners.

Contact: Cyrus Rassool, cyrus.rassool@consumer.org