Google has taken an unexpected turn by backing the Right to Repair bill (SB 542) in Oregon, US, and simultaneously releasing a comprehensive white paper titled “Google & Repairability.”
The white paper introduces “core principles” for lawmakers to consider, emphasizing that “user safety should be a top priority.” This move by Google is surprising, given its past opposition to similar legislation in 2021.
Google’s change of stance in Oregon seems motivated by a desire to influence regulatory policies related to repairs, rather than a genuine concern for customers. Notably, the company had previously lobbied against the HB21-1199 R2R bill in Colorado and the AB 1163 in California.
The white paper delves into the concept of “design flexibility,” urging lawmakers not to impose stringent design codes that may adversely affect device manufacturers. Google suggests that policies related to repair should focus on defining repairability outcomes rather than enforcing strict design standards. Additionally, the document advocates for a “reasonable implementation period” to avoid disruptions to existing manufacturing schedules.
Highlighting the potential risks of improper repairs, especially when dealing with safety-critical components like lithium-ion batteries, Google proposes that original equipment manufacturers (OEM) supply parts assemblies instead of individual components. For instance, the Pixel 8 Pro includes a “rear-facing camera assembly” and “rear case assembly” to simplify installation and minimize injury risks.
Google also opposes “unfair anti-repair practices” such as parts pairing and emphasizes its provision of a fingerprint calibration tool. The company resists being compelled to provide passwords, security codes, or materials to override security features on devices, citing its Repair Mode.
Expressing support for the Oregon proposal, Google believes it offers a compelling model for other states, advocating for standardized country-level regulations over fragmented approaches. The company argues that promoting phone repairability empowers people by saving money on devices while contributing to the reduction of electronic waste.