Google Voices Its Support for Oregon's Right to Repair Bill, Releases a White Paper

Calls out "parts-pairing," carried out by Apple on selected parts, as being an "unfair anti-repair practice" which "should be discouraged."

Gareth Halfacree
5 months agoSustainability

Google has thrown its weight behind the Right to Repair movement, releasing a white paper n the topic and voicing its support of a bill proposed in Oregon the company calls "common sense" — while getting in a little jab at its competitor Apple's parts-pairing program.

"We applaud the efforts of Oregon state senator Janeen Sollman in advancing a common sense repair bill," Google's Steven Nickel, director of operations for devices and services, says. "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."

The bill in question is Senate Bill 542, which attempts to ensure that manufacturers make available everything a skilled individual could need to repair their devices — including replacement parts, any specialized tools needed, documentation, and diagnostic software — without restricting access to only in-house technicians or authorized repair houses. Google, Nickel claims, has already made strides towards this — including provision of spare parts and tools, plus recently-overhauled repair manuals.

In support of this, Google has released a white paper titled "Google & Repairability" which outlines its work in the field, including its 2022 partnership with iFixit for Pixel-device repair kits, while also claiming support for "thoughtful regulations" led by core principles including ensuring user safety and security.

It also contains a sideways jab at rival Apple, which is not called out by name in the paper but has been under fire for its "parts-pairing" program — using, in Google's words, "software barriers to obstruct consumers and independent repair shops from replacing components" by locking replacement parts or disabling features unless paired to the smartphone through a proprietary process available only to authorized technicians.

The white paper's release comes a month after Google announced it was extending its partnership with iFixit and overhauling its repair documentation further, while also launching "Repair Mode" — a feature of selected Pixel devices which allows a technician to verify operation without gaining access to the owner's private data. Apple, for its part, announced its own self-service repair program two years ago.

"Google is committed to continue to push the envelope in our engineering and design, our repair programs, and our public engagements to support repair and environmental sustainability," Nickel claims. "And we appreciate the efforts of policymakers, like we see in Oregon, to help move the entire industry towards a more sustainable and repairable future."

More information, and a link to download the white paper, is available on the Google blog.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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