California Assembly Passes Right To Repair Bill

California has passed Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman’s Right to Repair Bill, otherwise known as Senate Bill 244.

California became the third US state to pass an electronics right-to-repair act, after SB 244 passed in a 50–0 vote in the California state Assembly on 12th September.

Last month Apple surprised some when it officially endorsed SB 244, stating in a letter “Today, Apple writes in support of SB 244, and urges members of the California legislature to pass the bill as currently drafted.”

Senate Bill 244

The CEO of teardown specialist iFixit, Kyle Wiens, noted at the time that “Apple’s endorsement of the Right to Repair Bill in California is a watershed moment for consumer rights. It feels like the Berlin Wall of tech repair monopolies is starting to crumble, brick by brick.”

The repair specialist noted that California’s bill goes farther than similar laws that passed in Minnesota and New York.

This is because the SB 244 sets a term for availability of parts and updates.

For products that cost between $50 and $99.99, parts, tools, and documentation will have to be available in California for three years after the last date of product manufacture.

For products costing over $99.99, repair materials will have to be available for seven years.

All electronics and products made or sold after 1 July 2021 will be covered by SB 244.

These terms will ensure that manufacturers can’t drop product repair support at the end of a product’s warranty period.

After being approved in the California state Assembly, the bill is now headed for a final concurrence vote in the Senate, before it will cross California Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for his final sign off.

“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,” said Wiens.

All three bills will collectively roll out in 2024 (January for New York and July for Minnesota and California)

Change of heart

Apple has not always been so supportive of the right to repair movement.

Indeed iFixit has famously clashed with Apple in previous years over the road blocks implemented by the iPhone maker and other manufacturers, trying to stop third parties from repairing their devices.

But to be fair Apple has been undergoing a change of heart for a number of years now.

In August 2019 for example, Apple confirmed it would, for the first time ever, supply genuine parts to independent repair shops.

Then in November 2021 Apple confirmed plans to give technically-minded customers the ability to repair their own devices. Repairable items include the display, battery, and camera.

Five months later in April 2022, Apple opened up its Self Service Repair Store to US customers only, offering more than 200 individual parts and tools (torque drivers, repair trays, display, battery presses etc).

In December 2022 Apple opened its Self Service Repair Store in UK and Europe, so users could purchase genuine Apple parts to repair an iPhone themselves.

Growing movement

Meanwhile countries have expanded their own right to repair regulations.

In July 2021 the UK government introduced new legislation which obliges manufacturers to make spare parts available to consumers so appliances can be fixed.

The European Parliament has also voted in favour of establishing stronger “right to repair” laws that will ensure that goods can be repaired for up to 10 years, in order to to reduce electrical waste.

In October 2021, with the support of the Biden Administration, the US Copyright Office expanded its legal shield to fix tech goods.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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