Massachusetts launches 2023 digital ‘Right to Repair’ campaign with new repairability scorecard

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BOSTON – At a State House event  of legislators on Thursday, advocates, small business owners and others called for swift passage of the Digital Right to Repair bill (HD 3826/SD 793). If passed into law, the bill would give consumers and independent repair businesses access to the parts, manuals and tools needed to keep portable electronics working. At the event, MASSPIRG advocates also released their new “Failing the Fix” scorecard, which calculates how easy or difficult it is to fix most popular cell phone and laptop brands, such as Apple, Google and Dell.

The bill’s chief sponsors, Rep. Adrian Madaro (East Boston) and Sen. Michael Brady (Brockton), have said they would work together to make this bill a priority for the 2023-2024 session.

Rep. Madaro, who could not attend this morning’s event, sent a statement: “At a time when we all use electronic devices to stay connected to the people and resources we need, repairing these devices should be as easy and accessible as possible,” said Rep. Madaro. “Some of the most expensive and important items we own shouldn’t be at risk of becoming waste when a simple fix by a local professional can keep them functional for years to come. That’s why I’m proud to sponsor Digital Right to Repair in the House. This bill will guarantee that Massachusetts consumers can get their electronic devices repaired how they want, where they want.”

“Thank you to MASSPIRG for bringing this bill to light.  I’m proud to be a sponsor of this bill,” Sen. Brady said. “My constituents have asked for legislation that aims to promote competition, consumer choice, and environmental sustainability by enabling individuals and independent repair shops to repair electronic devices rather than having to rely on the manufacturers for repairs.”

The speakers included David Webb, owner of Hamilton Repair in Worcester. Webb said that his small business and many others like it are suffering, needlessly, because manufacturers are currently allowed to block access to the tools and information needed to repair electronic items that could last much longer. Webb showed how newer devices are harder to repair, and how that increases cost for his customers.

“There used to be 11 computer repair shops in the Worcester area. Now there are two — and I’m the only one with employees. I fear if we don’t enact digital Right to Repair, my shop could easily go out of business too,” said Webb.

Nathan Proctor, senior director of PIRG’s Right to Repair Campaign, added that uncovering manufacturer practices that block repair is helping to move the needle. PIRG’s scorecard shows that the movement for the right to repair over the last few years has started to inch some companies towards making their products more repairable, but that many devices still get low marks.

“It’s ridiculous to spend hundreds of dollars on expensive tech which you can’t fix, and end up being disposable. Companies should do more to design their products to last, and lawmakers can help by passing Right to Repair bills to ensure that we can fix our stuff,” said Proctor.

The director of MASSPIRG, the advocacy organization leading the charge for this law on Beacon Hill, was there to push for less waste.

“Massachusetts gets rid of more than 8,000 cell phones every day. We should keep our electronics working and off the scrap heap, but the companies that make today’s electronics, from phones to appliances to modern tractors, actively block access to the information we need to fix them,” said Janet Domenitz, director of MASSPIRG. “On the path to zero waste in Massachusetts, we simply must have the right to repair our things;  which will result in less disposal, less pollution, and more consumers empowered.”

Massachusetts led the nation in creating auto Right to Repair rules in 2012, which PIRG,, iFixit and others are now pressing to expand to include other kinds of electronics. The bill this year narrows the approach to portable consumer electronics, such as tablets and smartphones.

staff | TPIN

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