Minnesota passes landmark law on the right to repair electronic devices

big picture: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed a new law this week that gives consumers the right to repair their electronic devices and gadgets, albeit with some exceptions. Minnesota is not the first US state to pass consumer electronics repair right legislation, as states like New York and Colorado have also passed similar laws in recent years. Others, such as Washington and Maine, have also proposed similar laws that would give consumers the ability to repair their electronic gadgets and appliances.

The Minnesota Act is part of the Consolidated Appropriations Bill (SF 2774), which takes effect July 1, 2024, and contains a “fair digital repair” clause that covers most consumer electronics except game consoles, automobiles, medical devices, cybersecurity tools, home energy storage systems, and agricultural and construction equipment. . However, it includes most other consumer electronics, including smartphones, laptops, TVs, washing machines, refrigerators, smart home devices, and more.

The law requires electronics manufacturers to provide repair tools and manuals to consumers and independent repair shops so that they can fix broken devices without having to pay extra to have them repaired at the company’s own service centers. The law applies to all products sold on or after July 1, 2021, and provides that necessary repair tools and documents must be made available to consumers free of charge within 60 days. Failure to do so will be a violation of the State’s Unfair Trade Practices Act and will result in penalties.

Right to Repair observers and activists believe the Minnesota law is more comprehensive in scope and scope than the New York law, which is due to go into effect this July. Unlike the Minnesota bill, the bill signed by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul last year did not impress some right-to-repair advocates because it doesn’t require manufacturers to sell individual parts to consumers and doesn’t allow third-party repairers to bypass software. locks. It also doesn’t apply to devices sold before the law was passed, making it far less comprehensive than what activists have been asking for.

Despite many exceptions to the Minnesota law, for the most part it has been warmly received by right-of-repair advocates. One of them is Nathan Proctor, senior director of the US PIRG Right to Repair campaign. In a statement released this week, Procter said that the new legislation is the biggest victory for consumers in the field of right to repair to date. “Repairs reduce waste and save consumers money,” he said. This is common sense, and it is becoming increasingly clear that attempts by manufacturers to interfere with repairs are no longer acceptable. Minnesota won’t be the last state to systematize this.”

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