New Hampshire rep seeks to revive ‘right to repair’ bill

Measure would require manufacturers to share product info with customers, third-party repair shops

A New Hampshire state representative plans to resubmit a so-called “right to repair” bill, after some tinkering with the language to satisfy some critics.

Last year, the House considered House Bill 1733, which was mainly aimed at Apple and other smartphone manufacturers that only share information and spare parts at the their own facilities (such as Apple’s Genius Bars) or other authorized service centers. That results in independents scavenging scrapped smartphones for spare parts, or trying to use reverse engineering. And they can’t do some things at all without a special code.

But a hearing in February also revealed some unintended consequences. Trade organizations argued that it could jeopardize security. And both medical and agricultural equipment lobbyists argued that consumers’ safety is jeopardized when their products are fixed by people who are not properly trained.

The House Commerce Committee ended up sending the bill to interim study. A committee voted at the end of October to recommend it for future legislation, by a slim 9-8 margin. 

Rep. David Luneau, D-Hopkinton, thinks that the bill has a better chance this time around, partly because of the new Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, and also because he has excluded farm and medical equipment.

Still, he argued that security isn’t much of an issue, since the law only requires manufacturers to share with independents what they already revealed to authorized dealers.

“It won’t disclose any proprietary information or trade secrets.” Luneau said.

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