California became the third state to pass an electronics right-to-repair act, following a unanimous vote in the California state Assembly on September 13. The bill, now headed to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk to be signed into law, previously passed the California Senate in May with a unanimous vote. 

California will become the third and largest state in the nation to adopt “right to repair” legislation broadly applicable to manufacturers of electronic devices. Minnesota and New York approved similar legislation in the past year. However, the California bill stands out in that it requires companies to expand access to repair materials like parts, tools, documentation and software for a longer period of time. The bill (SB 244) will cover electronics and appliances made and sold after July 1, 2021. 

Due to efforts led by the Security Industry Association (SIA) with support from industry partners, the California bill’s measures specifically exclude alarm and fire protection systems, which cover electronic products provided by security and life safety manufacturers. 

While such products were not intended to be targeted, the lack of specific exclusions in the measure originally introduced would have put the functional integrity and cybersecurity of security and life safety systems, and the lives of those who depend on them, at risk by forcing manufacturers to make sensitive technical information and other means of compromising systems broadly available. 

In an announcement, SIA applauded the bill’s author, state Sen. Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), and the California state legislature for acknowledging these concerns and adding provisions early in the legislative process to clearly and thoroughly protect the integrity of these products and the obligations of the industry to its customers. 

“Reasonable public policy prevailed in California due to the leadership of Sen. Eggman and the SIA government relations team and industry partners. The message has been clear for some time — right to repair legislation has the potential to create real risks to consumers if applied too broadly,” said SIA CEO Don Erickson. “With careful deliberation and thoughtful policymaking by California leaders,  we hope these concerns will continue to be taken seriously in any jurisdiction considering similar legislation.” 

Notably, all three states enacting right to repair legislation so far have included provisions that exclude security products. 

While SIA is supportive of finding effective ways to extend the life of consumer electronics and reduce electronic waste, the association said it will continue to work with industry leaders, allied organizations and policymakers across the country to address risks to public safety posed by legislation that does not adequately protect security and life safety systems.