Colorado Governor Signs Right to Repair Electronic Devices Bill Into Law

Colorado’s recent legislation grants citizens the freedom to repair their electronic devices, such as phones and computers, without relying solely on the manufacturer. The law permits original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to charge fees for physical tools, while software remains complimentary. However, HB24-1121 prohibits the practice of “parts pairing,” wherein OEMs program specific parts to restrict customers from handling the repairs themselves, allowing firms to monopolize the replacement parts market.

According to the group representing OEMs and tech companies, the legislation poses “significant risks” to its members, who develop software for connected devices and mobile phones, given their business’s success relies on their software’s seamless functionality. If third-party repairs result in device malfunctions, the software present on the device may not function correctly, endangering the members’ business. Additionally, the organizations contend that the legislation endangers the safety of sensitive consumer information stored on devices. The group warns the bill would create opportunities for bad actors to access and copy personal data.

Senator Nick Hinrichsen (D-Pueblo), one of the co-sponsors of HB24-1121 in the Colorado State Senate, justifies the bill, claiming that manufacturer-imposed repair restrictions lead to inflated costs, monopolistic business practices, and thousands of thrown-out devices. “If you cannot fix something that’s yours, do you truly own it?” he asked, implying the importance of right-to-repair laws in promoting fair markets and empowering consumers.

The law’s expansion aims to provide business owners with the right to fix their commercial and industrial equipment or hire third parties, eliminating dependence on authorized repair personnel. In comments sent to the US Copyright Office, two agencies argued that expanding repair exemptions would promote competition in the replacement parts, repair, and maintenance services market.

While some products feature intricately crafted hardware and software, neither the consumer nor third-party repair shops are trained to repair. As the report indicates, third parties making adjustments to items such as microprocessors embedded in internal combustion engine vehicles that regulate the engine’s adherence to emission guidelines could compromise safety standards. Furthermore, giving consumers unrestricted access to microprocessors may open up cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

The right to repair bill could lead to “a reduction in quality, performance, consumer safety, and the environment,” warns the institute, emphasizing the risks inherent in allowing individuals to tinker with products susceptible to electromagnetic interference. Nevertheless, proponents of the bill, such as Rep. Steven Woodrow (D-Denver), who co-sponsored HB24-1121 in the state House, contend that right-to-repair laws are necessary to promote consumers’ rights to fix their products


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