The right to repair the devices consumers own is a touchy subject, but for fans of the idea in Minnesota, there's good news.
In April of this year, both houses in the Minnesota Legislature passed right to repair language that's part of a larger bill. It is designed to give those living within the state more repair options in general.
The Digital Fair Repair Act allows Minnesotans to choose how they get their devices repaired, whether independently, with a third-party shop, or with the manufacturer directly. And now the bill has passed.
Governor Walz signed the bill today, and the law will go into effect beginning July 1, 2024. It will apply to most consumer products produced after July 1, 2021, with a few exceptions.
The exceptions to the new bill are as follows:
- Video game consoles
- Farm equipment
- Medical devices
- Motor vehicles
- Cybersecurity tools
The bill does cover smartphones, tablets, televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, smart home devices, smart watches, electronic toys, blenders, and more. Even smart sneakers are included.
Once the bill goes into effect, manufacturers will be required to offer up various resources for people living in Minnesota. That includes the same parts, tools, and documentation that manufacturers use with their repair processes.
This offers more options for Minnesota residents and independent repair shops, as they will get the same resources. Moreover, the law dictates that manufacturers must offer these resources for free — even to folks outside Minnesota.
iFixit's CEO, Kyle Wiens, praised the new bill:
"The repair revolution arrived in Minnesota today! Now independent repair shops can compete, and everyone who wants can fix things themselves. With online documentation, people everywhere in the world— not just in Minnesota— will benefit from this. Manufacturers, get ready. Everyone else, get fixing."
Right-to-repair efforts have also cropped up in other states to varying degrees of success. In December of last year, for instance, New York State passed a right to repair bill that many deemed "toothless."
Compared to New York's, Minnesota's bill has some major differences, including business-to-business and business-to-government sales, which means schools with aging or failing laptops can get them fixed. Circuit boards are also included in the Minnesota bill, something not present in New York's.
Apple has pushed back against the right-to-repair efforts for quite some time, citing all sorts of reasons, including safety for the consumer. However, the company launched its own Self Service Repair program for iPhones last year.