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 had originally been introduced in 2019. It passed, nearly unanimously, through the state legislature in September.
“This is a victory for consumers and the planet, and it just makes sense,” Jenn Engstrom, state director of CALPIRG, told iFixit (which was also one of SB244’s co-sponsors). “Right now, we mine the planet’s precious minerals, use them to make amazing phones and other electronics, ship these products across the world, and then toss them away after just a few years’ use … We should make stuff that lasts and be able to fix our stuff when it breaks, and now thanks to years of advocacy, Californians will finally be able to, with the Right to Repair.”
Turns out Google isn’t offering seven years of replacement parts and software updates to the Pixel 8 out of the goodness of its un-beating corporate heart. The new law directly stipulates that all electronics and appliances costing $50 or more, and sold within the state after July 1, 2021 (yup, two years ago), will be covered under the legislation once it goes into effect next year, on July 1, 2024.
For gear and gadgets that cost between $50 and $99, device makers will have to stock replacement parts and tools, and maintain documentation for three years. Anything over $100 in value gets covered for the full seven-year term. Companies that fail to do so will be fined $1,000 per day on the first violation, $2,000 a day for the second and $5,000 per day per violation thereafter.
There are, of course, carve outs and exceptions to the rules. No, your PS5 is not covered. Not even that new skinny one. None of the game consoles are, neither are alarm systems or heavy industrial equipment that “vitally affects the general economy of the state, the public interest, and the public welfare.”
“I’m thrilled that the Governor has signed the Right to Repair Act into law,” State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said. “As I’ve said all along, I’m so grateful to the advocates fueling this movement with us for the past six years, and the manufacturers that have come along to support Californians’ Right to Repair. This is a common sense bill that will help small repair shops, give choice to consumers, and protect the environment.”
The bill even received support from Apple, of all companies. The tech giant famous for its “walled garden” product ecosystem had railed against 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 being debated, writing a letter of support reportedly stating, “We support ‘SB 244′ because it includes requirements that protect individual users’ safety and security as well as product manufacturers’ intellectual property.”