A bill that could make it easier to fix broken phones, computers and tablets was killed in the New York state legislature on Saturday when the session officially ended. Opposed by tech giants such as Apple, Cisco and Xerox, the bill would have forced companies to release electronic parts and design manuals to independent repair shops. If passed, the bill could have been a boon to repair technicians and "right-to-repair" advocates nationwide.
The New York legislature had until the end of June to consider the Fair Repair Act, but the bill was squashed in committee before it had a chance to reach the floor for a vote.
Advocates for the Fair Repair Act argue that if big tech companies give repair shops access to official manuals and electronic parts for devices, such as the iPhone, consumers would have more cost options to fix their phones and prolong a device's life. For consumers who face expensive in-house repair fees at, say, the Apple Store, buying a whole new device might seem to be the more economical version. Encouraging third-party repair, advocates say, helps keep phones out of landfills and reduces e-waste.
But companies such as Apple say that maintaining tight control over consumer repair options preserves the integrity of their products and provides a better customer experience. Apple and other tech companies have funded lobbying efforts against this bill.
Apple declined to comment on the bill to The Washington Post.
"There's no question in my mind that lobbying efforts played a role," said New York state Sen. Phil Boyle (R), who co-sponsored the bill. "But I think that as legislators learn about the issue from their constituents in favor of this bill, even the opposition of manufacturers will be overcome. It's a learning curve that hasn't gotten to the top now."
Boyle said he thinks that prospects for passing a similar bill in the next session are much higher as lawmakers become more aware of the issue.