Oregon legislators will consider ‘right to repair’ law

Electronics manufacturers like Apple and Samsung control the tools and parts needed to make fixes. Critics say that makes it harder, more expensive – and sometimes impossible – to perform even straightforward repairs. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File) AP

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If your smartphone’s charging port stops working, though, options are far fewer.

That’s because electronics manufacturers like Apple and Samsung control the tools and parts needed to make the fix. And critics say that makes it harder, more expensive – and sometimes impossible – to perform even straightforward repairs.

Oregon lawmakers will consider legislation this year designed to make that process easier by requiring manufacturers to make repair tools, parts and instructions readily available. on “fair and reasonable terms.” House Bill 2698 is among two-dozen similar bills before state legislatures across the country this year.

“We’re seeing this moving in the right direction and we’re hopeful that Oregon will be one of the first, if not the first, to do it,” said Charlie Fisher, Oregon state director of OSPIRG, which promotes consumer protections, environmental standards and public health measures.

Consumer advocates have been pushing “right to repair” laws for several years, aiming to open up electronic gadgets – literally – to make them easier for owners and independent repair shops to fix.

Electronics manufacturers have long opposed repair mandates and no state has adopted them for electronic devices. Oregon considered a right to repair bill in 2019 but it died in committee. This year’s bill is more narrowly tailored, focused on electronics. It wouldn’t apply to other consumer, agricultural or industrial products.

There is evidence that the movement has had some effect on manufacturers. In 2019, for example, Apple began offering tools, manuals and parts to independent repair shops.

Right to repair advocates say the industry hasn’t done nearly enough and that many perfectly good devices are rendered useless by stingy repair policies.

Oregon’s legislative calendar is crowded with bills to address the pandemic and recession, so it’s not clear how much airtime the right to repair bill will get. It does have five sponsors, though, with support from members of both parties, which improves its chances.

— Mike Rogoway | mrogoway@oregonian.com | twitter: @rogoway | 503-294-7699

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Date: 2021-01-28 08:38

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