California became just the third state in the nation to pass a “right to repair” consumer protection law on Tuesday, following Minnesota and New York, when Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 244. The California Right to Repair bill was originally introduced in 2019. It was passed, almost unanimously, by the state legislature in September.
“This is a win for consumers and the planet, and it makes sense,” said Jenn Engstrom, state director of CALPIRG. iFixit (who is also one of the co-sponsors of SB244). “Today, we mine the planet’s precious minerals, use them to make amazing phones and other electronics, ship these products all over the world, and then throw them away after only a few years of use … We must we make things that last and are able to fix our things when they break, and now thanks to years of advocacy, Californians finally can, with the Right to Repair.
Google doesn’t offer seven years of replacement parts and software updates on the Pixel 8 out of the goodness of its unbeaten corporate heart. The new law directly stipulates that all electronics and appliances that cost $50 or more, and are sold within the state after July 1, 2021 (yup, two years later), will be covered under the legislation once it begins next year, on July 1, 2024.
For devices and gadgets costing between $50 and $99, device makers must stock replacement parts and tools, and maintain documentation for three years. Anything over $100 worth is covered for the full seven-year term. Companies that fail to do so will be fined $1,000 per day for the first violation, $2,000 a day for the second and $5,000 per day for each violation thereafter.
There are, of course, exceptions to the rules. No, your PS5 is not covered. Not even that new skin. None of the game consoles, nor alarm systems or heavy industrial equipment will “affect the general economy of the state, the public interest, and the public welfare.”
“I am pleased that the Governor signed the Right to Repair Act into law,” State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said. “As I said before, I’m very grateful to the advocates who have been promoting this movement with us for the last six years, and the manufacturers who have come together to support the Right to Repair of Californians. It’s a sense common law that helps small repair shops, gives consumers choice, and protects the environment.
The bill even received support from Apple, of all companies. The tech giant known for its “walled garden” product ecosystem opposed the idea when it was previously proposed in Nebraska, claiming the state would become “a mecca for hackers.” However, the company changed its tune when SB 244 was debated, writing a letter of support that reportedly said, “We support ‘SB 244’ because it includes requirements that protect safety and security of individual users as well as the intellectual property of manufacturers.”