'Right to repair' legislation heading to California

Bill would require hardware manufacturers to make repair information, diagnostic tools and service parts available to device owners and repair shops.

Steven Musil
Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Californians may soon get the right to repair their own devices instead of being required to send them back to the manufacturer.

James Martin/CNET

Californians may soon have more options for getting their electronic devices repaired beyond sending them back to the manufacturer.

Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, a Democrat from Stockton, said Wednesday she plans to introduce legislation that would require manufacturers of electronics to make repair information, diagnostic tools and service parts available to device owners and independent repair shops.

"The Right to Repair Act will provide consumers with the freedom to have their electronic products and appliances fixed by a repair shop or service provider of their choice, a practice that was taken for granted a generation ago but is now becoming increasingly rare in a world of planned obsolescence," Eggman said in a statement.

Several states have introduced similar legislation in recent years to ease the process of repairing broken electronics. But many tech giants have opposed such efforts. To protect against intellectual property theft, they have created rigid rules that forbid fiddling with hardware or software.

Proponents say right to repair laws would benefit consumers and the environment alike by ensuring devices last longer, thus reducing electronic waste.

The high cost of manufacturer-based repair services often force people to prematurely replace devices such phones, TVs and other appliances, she said. The legislation will encourage a more efficient use of the scarce materials but also support local economies, she said.

With the legislation, California will become the 18th state to introduce a "right to repair" bill.

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