Right to Repair just won in Big Tech’s backyard: California’s Right to Repair Act, Senate Bill 244, has passed the state legislature. The bill—championed by state senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, and cosponsored by iFixit—won overwhelming approval, with a 65–0 vote in the Assembly, following a 38–0 vote in the Senate. The bill has to go back to the Senate for a minor procedural vote, and then it will await the governor’s signature.
California stands tall as the third state, after Minnesota and New York, to pass a Right to Repair law covering electronics. All three bills will collectively roll out in 2024 (January for New York and July for Minnesota and California), ensuring consumers in these states have more autonomy over their purchased devices. Together, these three states represent about 20% of the population of the United States.
This bill stands out from the laws that passed in Minnesota and New York by ensuring that repairs stay possible for longer. Manufacturers are mandated to keep repair materials, ranging from parts and tools to software and documentation, available for extended periods post-production: 3 years for products within the $50-$99.99 price bracket, and 7 years for those priced $100 or above. The bill applies to electronic and appliance products made and sold after July 1, 2021.
“The era of manufacturers’ repair monopolies is ending, as well it should be,” said Kyle Wiens, iFixit CEO. “Accessible, affordable, widely available repair benefits everyone. We’re especially thrilled to see this bill pass in the state where iFixit is headquartered, which also happens to be Big Tech’s backyard. Since Right to Repair can pass here, expect it to be on its way to a backyard near you.”
We’ve been fighting for your right to fix your stuff for decades, pushing manufacturers to make more-fixable designs and asking for access to parts, tools, and documentation. With the help of fellow advocates at Repair.org and the Public Interest Research Group, we’ve supported Right to Repair legislation in 45 states.
And in the last year, Right to Repair has started to win: In addition to the laws that passed in New York and Minnesota, Colorado passed a Right to Repair powered wheelchair bill last year and the first-ever agricultural Right to Repair law in June. Laws in Europe are also on the horizon, with regulators following their USB-C standardization mandate by also requiring that manufacturers provide parts for 7 years and software updates for 5 years in Europe by 2025.
Smart manufacturers will find repair programs that comply with all of these laws, making repair options available for consumers around the world. Increasingly, manufacturers have signaled their readiness to comply: Apple voiced their support of California’s bill, as did HP.
Though the bill is strong and should make repairs more available for everyone, it allows manufacturers to continue to engage in parts pairing, a practice by which they limit repairs with software blocks. They can also combine parts into expensive assemblies, which makes repairs more expensive.
We won’t stop fighting for more fixable stuff—but Right to Repair passing in California is a huge step in that direction. If you’re in the US and ready to join the fight, find your state legislators’ contact information on Repair.org. Everyone else, find your local advocacy network.
“I’m grateful to my colleagues in the Legislature, the advocates fueling this movement, and the manufacturers that have come along with us to support Californians’ Right to Repair,” said bill author Senator Eggman. “This is a common sense bill that will help small repair shops, give choice to consumers, and protect the environment.”