Hawaii, Oklahoma most recent states to introduce legislation; legislative activity intensifying; new partners joining effort.
Right to Repair legislation is picking up steam. So far in 2018, seventeen states have introduced right to repair bills despite strident opposition from some manufacturers. This bipartisan legislation would reduce repair costs by giving independent repair shops access to the parts, tools, and information that they need to repair electronic equipment.
Here’s the list of battlegrounds: Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington.
While none of the laws have passed yet, legislative activity is increasing dramatically. Apple's throttling of iPhones has increased scrutiny on the barriers to repair, and the need for Right to Repair reforms. Hearings are being scheduled across the country. Last Tuesday, Washington’s Technology committee held a hearing (video, testimony starts at 59:00) with strong representation from local businesses and non-profit organizations. They were opposed by trade associations at the direction of Apple and John Deere. Tomorrow, Minnesota will hold a hearing in the Consumer Protection Committee at 9 AM. New Hampshire has also scheduled a hearing in Concord on February 13.
Apple and other electronics manufacturers continue to oppose Right to Repair despite huge popular support. They argue that providing repair information to independent shops would threaten their intellectual property and engender dangerous modifications. Increasingly, state representatives are rejecting these arguments. Representative Jesse Young, R-WA, responded in last week’s hearing: “Code isn’t scary to me. I see code all day in my life. It’s nothing different than when I was working under my Impala’s hood. That’s led to American innovation.”
Across the nation, pressure is mounting and consumers and businesses are demanding action. Bloomberg has called on Apple to change their business model and embrace independents. At the local level, Nebraska’s Journal-Star ran a letter today calling to restore “farmers’ right to repair with fair-minded legislation protecting basic consumer rights.”
Supporters of the legislation include digital rights activists like EFF, environmental and consumer groups such as U.S. PIRG, BAN, and the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, agriculture organizations including state and national Farm Bureaus, as well as repair franchise iCracked, online repair community iFixit, and thousands of small repair businesses.
It’s time to restore our right to tinker. As Rep. Young put it, “we’ve really stifled the ability for the average American to get in [there] and show us their brilliance.” Consumers and legislators are working hand in hand around the country to fix the problem.