At year end, New York Governor Hochul signed the Fair Repair Act into law, making it easier for consumers to repair their own electronic devices. Fortunately, in response to concerns raised by AICC and members of the alarm industry, the Governor simultaneously enacted amendments to the Act to help prevent the compromise of alarm systems in a way that would endanger customers and the public.
The original version of the Act (S. 4104-A) would have required manufacturers of “digital electronic equipment”, including alarm systems, to make product manuals, repair tools, lockout codes, passwords, system design schematics and other information available to customers and third-party contractors, so that they can attempt repairs on their own. Both houses of the New York legislature passed the bill in June 2022. Before the bill was forwarded to the Governor for signing, AICC and some of its members weighed in with a request asking for “chapter amendments” to, so as to exempt central station alarm operations from the disclosure requirements in the bill. AICC pointed out that if access codes, passwords, or alarm system schematics are provided to customers or their contractors, and then either hacked or innocently made public (e.g., as part of a You Tube self-help video), it could allow bad actors to disable alarm systems, endangering tens or hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.
The Governor’s amendment to the Fair Repair Act was responsive to alarm industry concerns in multiple ways:
- Creation of a specific exemption for “home” security devices and alarm systems;
- Creation of a specific exemption for equipment sold under a specific business-to-government or business-to-business contract, which is not otherwise offered for sale directly by a retail seller;
- Deletion of the requirement for any alarm manufacturer or provider to disclose security codes and passwords for alarm equipment;
- Creation of an exemption for “medical devices” which should be broad enough to cover many security/medical monitoring pendants (to the extent that these devices are not already protected by the “home” alarm exemption discussed above;
- Grandfathering of pre-July 1, 2023 equipment, narrowing the scope of the new disclosure requirements and giving the alarm industry time to prepare for the new law (to the extent any devices don’t qualify for one of the above exemptions).
- Creation of an exemption for certain anti-theft security measures;
- Allowing the provision of replacement part assemblies rather than individual components.
- Protecting alarm and other manufacturers from having to disclose trade secrets or intellectual property.
AICC is seeking clarification of some of the terms in the new law, and expects more guidance in the coming weeks. The alarm industry should move expeditiously to urge the adoption of similar exemptions and measures in other pending state and federal Right to Repair legislation.