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Oregon Becomes 4th State With Right-to-Repair Law

The state will now give consumers a legal right to fix their own home electronics and requires manufacturers to provide access to the tools, parts and manuals to repair them. Oregon’s law goes further with its protections than other states’ rules.

Oregon became the fourth state to pass a bill giving consumers a legal right to fix their own home electronics Monday with legislation that requires manufacturers provide access to the tools, parts and manuals required to repair their gadgets.

Oregon’s right-to-repair bill takes things a bit further than the other states’ laws – and triggered objections from Apple and others in the tech industry.

The companies warn Oregon’s expansive law might compromise device security and safety, and lawmakers opposing the legislation say it’s likely to be tied up in court.

The bill passed the Oregon Senate last month 25-5 and the House on Monday 42-13. It now awaits Gov. Tina Kotek’s signature. The governor hasn’t indicated whether she supports the bill, which is typical. The governor rarely takes position on bills before they pass the Legislature.

Senate Bill 1596 includes:

  • A requirement that consumer electronics manufacturers to make parts, tools and repair manuals available to consumers and third-party repair ships on “fair and reasonable terms.”
  • A prohibition on tech companies blocking third-party components that are an “otherwise functional replacement” for manufacturers’ parts. Manufacturers also may not inhibit devices’ performance if consumers install third-party parts, or send “misleading alerts or warnings.”
  • Penalties of up to $1,000 a day for violators, beginning July 1, 2027. The bill applies to consumer electronics equipment manufactured since July 1, 2015, or cell phones manufactured after July 1, 2021.

Advocates have pushed right-to-repair legislation in Oregon since 2019. This year’s bill, however, goes further than prior iterations with its provisions relating to third-party parts. Using software to identify authorized components is called “parts pairing.”

Repair companies and consumer advocates hailed Oregon’s bill as setting a new benchmark for right-to-repair legislation. By limiting how manufacturers can use parts pairing, they say Oregon’s law could make it cheaper and easier for people to repair their phones and home electronics.

“I do believe this moves the ball forward and this would be one of the strongest right-to-repair bills in the country,” said Nathan Proctor, with the Public Interest Research Group, an advocacy organization that has helped lead the national push for right-to-repair laws.

A cell phone industry trade group and various other electronics organizations and companies opposed the legislation, warning that consumers could be at risk from defective batteries of biometric sensors with security flaws.

“We remain very concerned about the risk to consumers imposed by the broad parts-pairing restrictions in this bill,” John Perry, principal secure repair architect for Apple, said at a legislative hearing last month.

While Apple supports consumers’ right to repair their devices, Perry – who works at an Apple office in Beaverton – said the language in Oregon’s bill is too broad. He said it could introduce vulnerabilities to biometric security and battery safety and could potentially increase theft.

“An iPhone contains its owner’s important personal data including financial, health, and location information, and this bill introduces the possibility that Apple would be required to allow unknown, non-secure third-party Face ID or Touch ID modules to unlock that personal information,” Apple said in a statement Monday. “We will continue to support repair legislation, but strongly believe this bill does not offer the consumer protections Oregonians deserve.”

In floor debate Monday, Rep. Virgle Osborne, R- Roseburg, decried potential security risks and predicted the bill will trigger a lawsuit. He urged supporters to pare back the bill to match less ambitious legislation California passed last year.

“We were so close to getting this right, but we decided we were going to make it a little bit different from California and take a little bit bigger bite,” Osborne said. “We’ve got to be careful of unintended consequences.”

Supporters said the tech industry had been raising unwarranted fears about the legislation and described it as a straightforward way to secure Oregonians’ right to fix their own devices.

“We’re really not asking manufacturers to create anything new,” said Sen. Janeen Sollman, D- Hillsboro, at a forum last month introducing the bill. Sollman, who has led efforts to champion right-to-repair efforts in Oregon for five years, said the legislation benefits everyone who owns a tech gadget by giving them a choice if it stops working.

“What we want to do is to provide the opportunity for Oregonians to have choice on where they have that repaired, or if they have that repaired,” she said.

©2024 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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