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Oregon signs right to repair into law

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek on Tuesday signed Senate Bill 1596 into law, joining California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts and Minnesota in a growing list of states embracing a right to repair for citizens. The law is set to go into effect January 1.

The bill’s coauthors Janeen Sollman and Representative Courtney Neron took inspiration from California’s Senate Bill 244, which passed toward the tail end of 2023. The lawmakers did, however, add a key provision that split industry representatives. Apple, in particular, has taken issue with its aggressive approach to outlawing parts pairing, a practice that requires the use of proprietary components in the repair process.

The iPhone maker, which had previously issued an unprecedented open letter in favor of the California bill, has said that it is mostly in favor of Oregon’s bill, with the above caveat.

“Apple agrees with the vast majority of Senate Bill 1596,” John Perry, Apple senior manager, Secure System Design, said in testimony to state lawmakers in February. “I have met with Senator Sollman several times and appreciate her willingness to engage in an open dialogue. Senate Bill 1596 is a step forward in making sure that the people of Oregon, myself included, can get their devices repaired easily and cost effectively.”

Apple has cited security concerns around opening the repair process to unauthorized parts -- in particular biometric elements like fingerprint scanners. In a conversation with TechCrunch last month, Sollman expressed frustration over attempts to work with Apple on crafting the bill.

“People were coming to me with potential changes, and I felt like I was playing the game of operator, like I was being the one that was having to bring forward the changes, and not Apple themselves,” she said at the time. “That’s very frustrating. We entertained many of the changes that Apple brought forward that are in the California bill. There were two remaining items that were concerning to them. We’ve addressed one of them, because that was providing some ambiguity to the bill. And so, I think the one part that . . . they will stand on the hill on is the parts pairing.”

Google first stated its own approval of the bill back in January, calling it, “a compelling model for other states to follow.” Repair groups have also championed the legislation.

“By eliminating manufacturer restrictions, the Right to Repair will make it easier for Oregonians to keep their personal electronics running. That will conserve precious natural resources and prevent waste,” OSPIRG (Oregon State Public Interest Research Group) director Charlie Fisher noted in a statement following the news. “It’s a refreshing alternative to a ‘throwaway’ system that treats everything as disposable.”

Apple declined to comment on the news.