Google Supports Right to Repair in Oregon

Google Supports Right to Repair in Oregon

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Google, the maker of the Fitbit smartwatch, the Pixel phone, Chromebooks, and other smart home products, announced this week that it has changed its corporate position: backing a legal right to repair. The news, first reported by 404Media, came as a Google executive spoke in favor of an Oregon state right to repair bill in a hearing on Thursday.

The company also released a white paper, Google and Repairability, that outlines the steps the company has taken to support device repair—such as its collaboration with iFixit announced last year—as well as its changed position on repair. In a blog post, Steven Nickel, the Director of Operations for Devices and Services at Google, wrote that the company endorsed a right to repair bill introduced by Oregon state senator Janeen Sollman. “This legislation represents an inclusive compromise that brings tech companies, small repair companies, environmental leaders, and legislators to the table to find common ground and support the repair movement. This would be a win for consumers who are looking for affordable repair options, for the environment, and for companies that want to invest in making their products more repairable and sustainable,” he wrote.

Right to Repair Advocates Agree

Right to repair advocates said the tech giant’s support was welcome. “It is harder than it should be to fix the devices we use every day,” said U.S. PIRG Senior Right to Repair Campaign Director Nathan Proctor.

As a result, we are making, using and tossing way too much stuff. Google’s support for a strong Right to Repair bill in Oregon, which includes critical parts pairing reforms, gives me hope that we can tackle our tech trash treadmill and keep devices working longer.”

Nathan Proctor, U.S. PIRG

Google isn’t the first tech giant to back right to repair legislation. Apple famously flipped its opposition to a California right to repair bill, which Governor Gavin Newsome passed into law in 2023. The company subsequently called for a federal right to repair law modeled on the legislation passed in California.

So what’s the difference between Google and the other tech giants? For one, they’re actively lobbying to pass right to repair. Google is also backing more comprehensive right to repair legislation than has been passed to date. For example, the company opposes “parts pairing,” a practice used by major manufacturers like Apple to exert granular control over simple repairs like part replacement.

Google Criticizes Replacement Parts

Which isn’t to say that Google’s endorsement is without its faults. The company’s white paper parrots some of the (baseless) concerns about physical safety risks in the repair of personal electronics, and does so as a way to take a swing at a pillar of right to repair laws and advocacy: ready access to replacement parts. While there are certainly fire and physical safety concerns linked to lithium-ion batteries, batteries are generally safe to handle, and the risks are often overstated—especially when compared to the handling and physical safety risks of gasoline or propane, which we readily allow consumers to purchase, transfer, store, and use at home.

So why disparage the sale of individual components in favor of parts assemblies? Well, as iFixit has explained about similar language in the New York state right to repair bill, requiring the sale of parts assemblies where safety is a concern can eliminate some (low-level) risks in electronics repair. However, at a high level, pushing assemblies over discrete part replacement opens the door to OEMs using parts assemblies to indirectly control which repairs happen and which do not. If your smartphone “home button” breaks, for example, being able to purchase a replacement iPhone 8 home button for $20 and install it yourself makes that device easy and affordable to repair. But if that home button is only sold in an “assembly” with a screen and camera for $200, suddenly the scales tilt in favor of replacing (or upgrading) the iPhone 8—deprecating repair in favor of replacement.

More News

Device Page

Ecovacs Deebot 900

The Ecovacs Deebot 900 is an autonomous robot that vacuums the floors of your home. This page includes repair guides and troubleshooting tips.

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