"Right To Repair" Bill Introduced In California

California Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman has brought forth a version of the "Right to Repair" bill for consideration in California. The bill, as brought forth by Eggman, would be quite similar to existing versions in other states. Essentially, the bill seeks to make official repair information and parts for smartphones and other gadgets available for independent parties, including repair shops and individual owners. In order to accomplish this, the bill compels tech companies to make information and parts available through an official channel on pain of legal trouble of some sort, usually in the form of fines. 17 other states have already either introduced or passed some version of the Right to Repair act, and it may well become federal law in the near future if its popularity continues to grow.

The main point of this bill is to help consumers have access to alternative repair options that are lower in cost and take less time when compared to official repairs or insurance replacement options. A recent survey conducted by the California Public Interest Research Group found, unsurprisingly, that interest in such unofficial options for official repairs and parts spike on Apple's announcement that older iPhones with defective batteries were slowed down or otherwise intentionally crippled.

As things stand now in many states, independent repair shops and end-users don't have easy legal access to official parts, and companies are not required to offer any information about how to repair their products. This means that end-users wanting to repair their own devices have to resort to cheap, often lower-quality parts bought online, and get repair information from other techies who have worked on that particular device, or from sites like iFixit. Official parts can be gutted from official devices, but often come at exorbitant prices because of the work required to extract them. The only real alternative, for many devices, is to simply buy a non-working device with a different defect and strip the parts from it. A water-damaged Samsung Galaxy S7, for example, could get a new board from one that was dropped and had its underlying OLED display go out as a result. This situation is far from ideal, and between the price and the work required, leaves many end-users with no alternative but to settle for substandard parts, or simply get another device.

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