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Google Pixel supports Right to Repair bill, ‘parts assemblies’ over lone components [U]

3 weeks ago 19

One of the last Pixel announcements of 2023 was the launch of a Diagnostic App and repair manuals. The company today endorsed a proposed Right to Repair bill in Oregon and published a white paper explaining its position with the Pixel as an example.

Update 3/27: After passing its House and Senate, Oregon’s Right to Repair Act (SB 1596) was signed by the governor today. It will “require manufacturers to make parts, tools, and repair documentation more accessible to consumers and repair shops across Oregon.”

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

Governor Tina Kotek

When it passed the Oregon House earlier this month, Google said:

“This inclusive, common sense solution will allow small businesses to offer their customers more options and help Oregon families save money,” said Steven Nickel, Google’s Devices and Services Director of Operations. ”It’s also a show of support for companies investing in making their products more repairable and sustainable.

Original 1/11: The “Google & Repairability” white paper suggests “core principles” that lawmakers should keep in mind when writing regulations. (Amusingly, there is a reference to Project Ara, Google’s “modular smartphone investigation.”) The top guideline is how “user safety should be a top priority”:

Improper repair can be dangerous—especially if individuals use faulty parts or are unfamiliar with safety critical components, such as lithium ion batteries. Legislation should acknowledge the risks borne by unskilled repairers and allow original equipment manufacturers (OEM) to provide parts assemblies rather than individual components to reduce the risk of injury.

Instead of requiring OEMs to make available “individual components,” Google wants to offer “parts assemblies.” For the Pixel 8 Pro, there’s a “rear-facing camera assembly” and “rear case assembly.” That $172.99 back consists of several parts that are joined together out of the box for a more straightforward install process, though this does increase the price:

  • Rear Panel
  • Metal and Plastic Frame
  • Edge Bezel
  • Rear Camera Bezel and Lens Covers
  • External Side Buttons and Internal Button Switches
  • Wireless Charging Coil

Image credit: iFixit

Meanwhile, Google comes out against “unfair anti-repair practices,” like parts pairing, and already offers a fingerprint calibration tool

For example, parts-pairing, the practice of using software barriers to obstruct consumers and independent repair shops from replacing components, or other restrictive impediments to repair should be discouraged. 

The company is also against being “required to provide any passwords, security codes or materials to override security features on devices,” and points to its Repair Mode.

Google says the Oregon proposal “offers a compelling model for other states to follow,” and that it would prefer standardized regulations on a country-level over piecemeal approaches.

Ultimately, Google says the “ability to repair a phone, for example, empowers people by saving money on devices while creating less waste.”

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