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Big Tech Lobbyist Language Made It Verbatim Into NY's Hedged Repair Bill

Thursday February 16, 2023. 11:00 PM , from Slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: When New York became the first state to pass a heavily modified right-to-repair bill late last year, it was apparent that lobbyists had succeeded in last-minute changes to the law's specifics. A new report from the online magazine Grist details the ways in which Gov. Kathy Hochul made changes identical to those proposed by a tech trade association. In a report co-published with nonprofit newsroom The Markup, Maddie Stone writes that documents surrounding the drafting and debate over the bill show that many of the changes signed by Hochul were the same as those proposed by TechNet, which represents Apple, Google, Samsung, and other technology companies.

The bill would have required that companies that provide parts, tools, manuals, and diagnostic equipment or software to their own repair networks also make them available to independent repair shops and individuals. It saw heavy opposition from trade groups before its passing. New York Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, the bill's sponsor, told Grist that backers had to make 'a lot of changes to get it over the finish line in the first day or two of June.' The bill passed with broad bipartisan support, but it was pared down to focus only on small electronics. Between that passage and the December signing, lobbyists working for TechNet and firms including Apple, Google, and Microsoft met with the governor, according to state ethics filings. Apple, IBM, and TechNet asked Hochul to veto the bill, while Microsoft sought to cooperate with Fahy on changes.

Later, TechNet sent a version of the bill that limited the effects to later products and excluded printed circuit boards and business-to-business or government contracts, according to Grist. Crucially, the new version, which had changes attributed to a TechNet vice president, allows for companies to offer 'assemblies' of parts if the companies say the parts pose a 'safety risk.' TechNet's version also suggested independent repair shops should be forced to provide customers with 'a written notice of US warranty laws' before they can start work. TechNet's suggestions made their way to the Federal Trade Commission. A staffer at the FTC took aim at the assembly clause, the exclusion of security workarounds for repair, and other elements. Dan Salsburg, chief counsel for the FTC's Office of Technology, Research, and Investigation, wrote that TechNet's suggestions had 'a common theme -- ensuring that manufacturers retain control over the market for the repair of their products.'

Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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