Massachusetts may soon be the first state to enshrine the right-to-repair in law. The Digital Right to Repair Act moved out of committee in both the House and Senate on Tuesday, clearing an important hurdle in the state legislature and moving the legislature further than it’s been in any other state. Before the bill becomes a law, both houses of the Massachusetts legislature will need to vote on it. But right-to-repair activists are optimistic.
“It’s great news—this has been a really tough step in Massachusetts,” Nathan Proctor, the head of USPIRG's Right to Repair Campaign, told Motherboard in an email. “Next it will be considered for a floor vote in one chamber, the Senate likely first. We have considerable support for the bill.”
Right-to-repair has a long history in Massachusetts. It was the first state to pass similar legislation for cars. “Clearing committee was a very significant hurdle, and getting the recommendation to pass the bill from the committee took a huge effort from a wide coalition of groups,” Proctor said. “Right to Repair has roared out the gates so far in 2020, and I think it's time manufacturers read the writing on the wall: People want to fix their stuff, and it's only a matter of time before we pass new laws to overcome the barriers in our way.”
Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, told Motherboard that huge portions of both the House and Senate have cosponsored the bill.
“If leadership allows this to have a floor vote, this will pass,” Wiens said. “This is the closest we’ve ever gotten.”
Right-to-repair is an issue that affects everyone and it’s gaining support among voters. When a smartphone breaks, many people would rather fix it themselves or pay for a third party for simple repairs. Companies like Apple want consumers to come to them for repairs and recently told Congress that people would hurt themselves if they repaired their own stuff. Democratic Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have both called for national right-to-repair laws.