Oregon becomes fourth state with a right-to-repair law for technology

It joins Minnesota, New York and California.
The Oregon state Capitol in Salem. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File)

Oregon is now the fourth state in the country to enact a “right to repair” law to make it easier for consumers and independent shops to fix electronic gear.

With Gov. Tina Kotek’s (D) signing of Senate Bill 1596 on Thursday, manufacturers will be required to offer any necessary documentation, parts, tools or any device needed to repair electronic equipment at a “fair cost” and on “reasonable” terms.

“This is a win for consumers and will help bridge our digital divide and support small businesses across our state,” Kotek said in a statement.

The bill takes effect in January. It was championed by Sen. Janeen Sollman (D), who first started pushing for the legislation in 2021. She won approval this session with support from Democrats and several Republicans, including Sen. Kim Thatcher (R). The minority of lawmakers who opposed the bill were Republican.

“Our new right to repair law is a reasonable, common sense step to lower costs and put more power back in the hands of consumers,” Sollman said in a statement.

The law is expected to make repairing electronic devices, like smartphones and computers, cheaper for consumers and independent repair shops. It is also expected to stem emissions and electronic waste. Rep. Courtney Neron (D), who presented in the House, said that Oregonians toss nearly 5,000 cell phones every day and that if they held onto them another year, it would be the equivalent of removing 8,100 cars from the road.

Supporters say the law will also be good for marginalized communities that are often left on the sidelines in the digital world. A 2021 report from the Federal Trade Commission to Congress said consumer products are becoming increasingly harder to fix and maintain and that communities of color are heavily affected.

The bill had wide support from small businesses and consumer advocates, including OSPIRG, a statewide public interest group.

“No longer can a manufacturer use anti-consumer software to prevent third party repairs,” said Charlie Fisher, OSPIRG’s director in a statement. “Now, small business vendors will be able to fix consumer technology without threatening the performance of a device.”

Only one major manufacturer opposed the bill – Apple. An Apple representative who testified against the bill said it would undermine the company’s security efforts, a claim lawmakers questioned. The company has come under mounting regulatory scrutiny, with the European Union recently fining it nearly $2 billion and 15 states, including Oregon, joining a U.S. Department of Justice suit this month that accuses Apple of trying to illegally corner the smartphone market.

Besides Oregon, Minnesota, New York and California have right to repair laws on technology. Massachusetts has approved a right to repair law on vehicles and Colorado has adopted one for wheelchairs and another for farmers.

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