Colorado governor signs 'best in the world' right-to-repair law

But the repairability war isn't over, says iFixit's Kyle Wiens

A right to repair rule just signed into law in Colorado is earning praise from advocates for making the area one of the best jurisdictions for electronics tinkerers and DIYers.

Colorado governor Jared Polis signed the bill yesterday, which expands the state's previous repairability rules for farm equipment and wheelchairs to include consumer electronics and other tech. The new rule adds a complete prohibition on parts pairing technology often used to stymie repairability by requiring manufacturer consent to install new parts in a damaged device. 

"Protecting our right to repair our own broken equipment will save money, strengthen small businesses, and reduce technology waste," governor Polis said of the new law. "Today we are building on our work to protect Coloradans' right to repair to ensure manufacturers cannot force Coloradans to pay extreme repair costs." 

Along with prohibiting parts pairing, the new law mandates that electronic equipment manufacturers make the process of obtaining tools and materials for repairing devices "fair and reasonable." According to Colorado, fair and reasonable access to repairability tools means that they're provided without charge, other than what it costs to prepare and send it, while software tools must be provided for free.

Documentation and firmware, meanwhile, must be provided at terms comparable to what a manufacturer would offer to an authorized repair shop.

The law takes effect on January 1, 2026, at which point all devices manufactured after July 1, 2021, must be supported. The parts pairing prohibition only applies to devices manufactured after the law comes into force. 

Right to repair triumphs again

The Public Interest Research Group and iFixit, two groups continually on the edge of repairability advocacy, have hailed the Colorado law as a huge win for right to repair, with iFixit even going so far as to say the Colorado law makes the state "the best place in the world for repair access." 

"Colorado's taking a search-and-destroy approach to repair monopolies," iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens said of the new law. "Anyone who still expects to keep people away from repair should watch out."

"We're excited that this law will protect repair of server equipment, much of which could live a lot longer than it does now," Wiens added. 

PIRG gave largely the same praise, with executive director Danny Katz saying the new law makes Colorado "an example for the rest of the country in terms of repairing the products we all use." 

"This action makes Colorado the 'Right to Repair State' – we will be able to fix more of our stuff than people in any other state," Katz added. 

The fact that a strong parts pairing prohibition was included in the bill indicates that the practice continues to fall out of favor as more and more localities take action to ban it. Even Apple, which has relied heavily on parts pairing to maintain control of its devices while speaking out of the other side of its mouth about support for right to repair, recently caved to the parts-pairing pressure by announcing it would allow used parts to be installed in some devices. 

However, as iFixit pointed out, Apple's declaration of allowing some used parts to be used for repairs doesn't comply with Colorado's prohibition on parts pairing, nor the version included in a recently passed right to repair bill in Oregon

"Apple has made no promises to enable previously blocked functionality for third-party parts, which are also key to independent and DIY repair," iFixit said. "To be clear, nobody expects Apple to make parts work when they don't meet the necessary specifications — but currently, Apple blocks functionality of many third-party parts preemptively." 

In other words, Colorado is another win, but it's hardly the end of the war. ®

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