Ever have an electronic device, say a smartphone or a computer, die on you, and when you brought it in for service, found out that the repairs would cost more than just buying a new one?
Yeah, we all have.
That’s why bills have been introduced in the states of New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska and Kansas aimed to protect consumers and assure that the devices they paid good money for will be serviceable. The bill would force manufacturers to sell replacement parts to independent repair shows while also making diagnostic and repair manuals available. The bills, in most cases, also cover home appliances, tractors, home-automation products, cameras and anything with software in it. A similar bill is also being introduced in Wyoming.
Of course, manufacturers like Apple and Miicrosoft will balk, because they will say that keeping their products’ technical information close to their chests protects their trade secrets. In short, Apple doesn’t release the information because they don’t want some random making an iPhone based on the schematics and technical information they would have to release to independent shops and consumers under a law of this sort.
But the legislators thought of this, as the bills are crafted to protect manufacturers’ trade secrets. The New York bill, called Senate Bill S618, is called the “Fair Repair Act.” It seeks to enable independent repair providers access to parts and diagnostic information from manufacturers while still protecting that manufacturer’s trade secrets.
In short, manufacturers would only have to release diagnostic and repair information and not software, operating system or other things that would allow someone to clone the device. In addition, repair providers would have to be authorized by manufacturers.
Why should you care? This will would dramatically reduce what it costs to fix your gear while extending the lives of expensive electronics. Win-win, we think.