Visualization of NPI's March 2023 right to repair poll finding
Visualization of NPI's March 2023 right to repair poll finding (NPI graphic)

Vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton State are in over­whelm­ing agree­ment that the prac­tice of many large elec­tron­ics man­u­fac­tur­ers to restrict access to the nec­es­sary parts and infor­ma­tion to make repairs on phones and lap­top com­put­ers is a prob­lem, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s most recent statewide sur­vey has found.

69% of 874 like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers inter­viewed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling ear­li­er this month said that they agreed that the planned obso­les­cence busi­ness prac­tices of firms like Apple and Sam­sung were a prob­lem, with only 15% dis­agree­ing and 16% not sure. The per­cent­age of those in agree­ment per­fect­ly match­es the per­cent­age we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly found in sup­port of right to repair leg­is­la­tion in Wash­ing­ton State, demon­strat­ing strong and sus­tained sup­port.

Visualization of NPI's March 2023 right to repair poll finding
Visu­al­iza­tion of NPI’s March 2023 right to repair poll find­ing (NPI graphic)

This morn­ing, the Sen­ate Envi­ron­ment, Ener­gy & Tech­nol­o­gy Com­mit­tee heard House Bill 1392, prime spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mia Gregerson (D‑33rd Dis­trict: South King Coun­ty). As sum­ma­rized by non­par­ti­san staff in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, HB 1392 “requires man­u­fac­tur­ers of dig­i­tal elec­tron­ic equip­ment [but not cars and med­ical devices] to make avail­able to inde­pen­dent repair providers (IRPs) cer­tain parts, tools, and doc­u­men­ta­tion on fair and rea­son­able terms for the diag­no­sis, main­te­nance, and repair of dig­i­tal elec­tron­ic equipment.”

HB 1392 — dubbed the Fair Repair Act for short — passed the House on a vote of 58–38 on March 4th. It must receive a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion from the Sen­ate Envi­ron­ment Com­mit­tee by March 29th to remain active this session.

Pri­or to HB 1392’s con­sid­er­a­tion in the Sen­ate, we want­ed to find out if vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton agree or dis­agree with right to repair pro­po­nents that this leg­is­la­tion address­es a real prob­lem that peo­ple are hav­ing with their electronics.

So we asked this ques­tion and got these responses:

QUESTION: Elec­tron­ics man­u­fac­tur­ers like Apple and Sam­sung have a his­to­ry of restrict­ing access to the nec­es­sary parts and infor­ma­tion to make repairs on phones and lap­top com­put­ers. Do you strong­ly agree, some­what agree, some­what dis­agree, or strong­ly dis­agree that this is a problem?


  • Agree: 69%
    • Strong­ly agree: 45%
    • Some­what agree: 24%
  • Dis­agree: 15% 
    • Some­what dis­agree: 9%
    • Strong­ly dis­agree: 6%
  • Not sure: 16%

Our sur­vey of 874 like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Tues­day, March 7th through Wednes­day, March 8th, 2023.

The poll uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (50%) and online answers from cell phone only respon­dents (50%).

It was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

NPI Leg­isla­tive Direc­tor Kathy Saka­hara tes­ti­fied in sup­port of HB 1392 this morn­ing, pre­sent­ing this research and not­ing that vot­ers have been con­sis­tent. What’s also remark­able, in addi­tion to the con­sis­ten­cy of sup­port, is that right to repair is a bipar­ti­san cause — not a dynam­ic we see for every issue. Majori­ties of Repub­li­cans, inde­pen­dents, and Democ­rats all agree that man­u­fac­tur­ers restrict­ing access to parts and infor­ma­tion need­ed to make repairs is a problem.

Breakdown by party and region 

By par­ty affil­i­a­tion: 53% of Repub­li­can vot­ers agree that elec­tron­ics man­u­fac­tur­ers’ his­to­ry of restrict­ing access to parts and infor­ma­tion is a prob­lem, joined by 68% of inde­pen­dents and 78% of Demo­c­ra­t­ic voters.

By region: 63% of vot­ers sur­veyed in East­ern and Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton also agree, joined by 73% of vot­ers sur­veyed in the Olympic Penin­su­la and South­west Wash­ing­ton. These are the rur­al areas of our state, and folks there under­stand­ably want to keep their gear in good work­ing order, whether that’s an Apple iPhone or a trac­tor from John Deere. Urban and sub­ur­ban vot­ers agree too: 71% in King Coun­ty, 71% in North Puget Sound, and 70% in the South Sound.

People should be able to get their broken devices fixed

Dur­ing today’s hear­ing, a num­ber of indus­try spokes­peo­ple argued that right to repair leg­is­la­tion would be prob­lem­at­ic from a cyber­se­cu­ri­ty and pri­va­cy per­spec­tive. For the record, they’re wrong. Mak­ing it eas­i­er for peo­ple to get their devices repaired does not increase any cyber­se­cu­ri­ty or pri­va­cy risks to users.

Most com­put­ers and mobile devices, includ­ing those sold by Apple and Sam­sung, offer built-in strong encryp­tion. Users should have that encryp­tion turned on to pro­tect their data in case of device loss or theft at all times. No encryp­tion means your data is at risk, includ­ing from tech­ni­cians who work for the very same com­pa­nies employ­ing lob­by­ists to oppose this right to repair legislation.

It’s under­stand­able that peo­ple want to be able to fix their devices when they break, and they should be able to. The indus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives who spoke today  neglect­ed to men­tion that com­pa­nies like Apple have poli­cies in place that pre­vent their employ­ees from help­ing some­one who comes into a retail store with a bro­ken prod­uct that is past its “life­cy­cle” but could still work if it was repaired.

Cuper­ti­no even man­dates that Apple Stores get rid of the tools required to open up and work on old­er prod­ucts (iMac, iPhone, iPad, etc.) and Apple employ­ees are not autho­rized to do any repair work on old­er prod­ucts for “lia­bil­i­ty reasons.”

Accord­ing­ly, if an Apple prod­uct is too old to be eli­gi­ble for ser­vice at an Apple Store, Apple employ­ees will tell a cus­tomer that their only recourse is to go to an inde­pen­dent repair shop and get help there. Yet, those same inde­pen­dent repair shops strug­gle to get the parts and infor­ma­tion nec­es­sary to help peo­ple who want their devices, old or new, restored to good work­ing order.

We can improve this sor­ry state of affairs and reduce elec­tron­ic waste by adopt­ing HB 1392. Wash­ing­to­ni­ans want the Fair Repair Act. They want to be able to fix their things, and our laws should empow­er them to be able to do so.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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