CITIZEN VOICES® Right-to-repair bill
Feb 19, 2019
New Hampshire is one of about two dozen states to consider a “right-to-repair” law.
Whether it’s a dying battery or a more serious issue, users of modern electronics equipment usually have to turn to an authorized repair person rather than fix it at home or through an independent shop, thanks to restrictions on the availability of the tools, parts, and information needed to make those repairs.
HB 462 would require that the makers of electronic equipment make repair manuals, spare parts, and specialized repair tools available to consumers and independent repair shops. If a manufacturer failed to do so, they would be subject to the regulations against unfair or deceptive business practices.
So far, no states have enacted a “right-to-repair" law of this nature.
The bill makes clear that it is not intended to force companies to divulge trade secrets apart from information and tools required to make repairs. It also does not apply manufacturers of cars and large off-road vehicles, or certain medical equipment.
Arguments for “right-to-repair”
Those in favor of such legislation say it is unfair for companies to prevent consumers from repairing electronics they rightfully purchased. They feel such manufacturers are mostly just interested in maintaining their monopoly on repair services. Independent repair shops may be able to offer cheaper repair than official, branded stores.
Supporters also point out that this bill could help users combat “planned obsolescence” which might otherwise force them to upgrade their old equipment rather than simply repairing it. Some environmentalists support the bill as a way to reduce the number of cell phones and laptops thrown away each year.
Arguments against “right-to-repair”
Opponents warn that it can be dangerous for users to repair their own equipment. They also argue that making this information public will threaten cyber security by making it easier to hack technology.
Lastly, they fear that legislation like this could force manufacturers to divulge trade secrets, meaning that third parties could use the repair instructions to reverse engineer cutting edge technology and undercut the original manufacturer. If New Hampshire institutes a “right-to-repair" law on its own, manufacturers may choose to simply not sell their products in New Hampshire.