Should third party repair shops have access to sensitive brand specific repair software?

That’s a question being asked at the legislature in proposed bill; HB20-1195: Consumer Right to Repair. Currently diagnostic and repair software is only available to certified dealers of the technology⁠—think equipment, software, technology, etc. This introduced bill would require all tech companies to release diagnostic and repair software to third party repair locations that currently don’t have access to the information. Enabling these locations to repair any kind of “digital electronic equipment.” From the iPhone in your hand, to the software in your tractor, in your drone or even in your truck, digital information would be required to be released to non-dealer repair shops across the state.

CFB has seen this issue pop up before, but largely at the federal level. This is the first year there has been a bill introduced into the Colorado legislature. CFB has several concerns with the legislation and while specific state policy does not exist on right to repair, AFBF just amended the national policy in January. In the amended policy, AFBF supports “the implementation of comprehensive right-to-repair legislation or a negotiated written agreement between ag producers and original equipment manufacturers” within certain parameters and with specific requirements.

The first concern is the impact this bill could have on warranties of large equipment that is equipped with significant digital and electronic components. Much of the new equipment contains specific software that may require coding experience or significant software training to repair or reset if needed. If a third party repairmen were to use the required shared software and something went wrong, would that void the dealer warranty? It’s a question that needs answers.

The second concern is how this will affect the current federal memorandum of understanding (MOU) negotiated between AFBF and other groups that allows access to some types of repairs. However, this MOU doesn’t cover all types of digital repairs, is specific to the agriculture industry and doesn’t have any leverage within other parts of the tech industry.

The final notable concern is that the bill requires companies to share information that may threaten their competitive advantage or reveal a trade secret. The new AFBF policies support some aspects of right to repair at a federal level, but only within the restraints of the current, federal MOU’s with the identified companies to ensure that will not void warranties. As stated above, if Colorado were to have different laws from what is being agreed upon at the federal level, it may put our farmers at risk of losing value even if they are operating within the Colorado law.
The state bill will be heard Weds., March 4 in the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee. Please click here for more information on the bill.

Please click here for more information on the bill.

If you would like more information, contact Emily.