Bill of the Week: House Bill 2688
Chief Sponsors: Rep. Bob Nosse (D-Portland) and Sen. James Manning Jr. (D-North Eugene)
What Problem It Seeks to Solve: Big tech companies like Apple and Samsung are not required by law to share repair information, individual parts or the tools necessary to install parts with consumers or repair shops. This keeps consumers reliant on the original manufacturer for all repairs.
What the Bill Would Do: The bill would require big tech companies to release the blueprints for repairs so consumers can choose who, when and where to repair their devices. Small repair shops could buy parts and tools necessary for repairs. Similar bills have reformed the auto industry. In 2012, Massachusetts passed a landmark bill that required auto companies to release similar information about repairs and open up the sale of parts. Less than two years later, getting a car fixed at any repair shop, affiliated with the manufacturer or not, was possible in all states. But no state legislature has successfully addressed the monopoly on tech repairs.
Who Supports It: Consumers of smartphones, laptops and tablets; independent repair shop owners; and the Portland nonprofit Free Geek, which refurbishes and redistributes donated electronics to those in need.
Sean Arnold operates a two-man repair shop out of his garage in Oregon City. "All we're asking for in this bill is the ability for the consumer to have a choice in who repairs his [device]," Arnold says. "Give the local guy, the corner shop, the local ma-and-pa shop the ability to compete."
Who Opposes It: Apple is lobbying against such bills in several states, citing the potential for security breaches and data leaking as their main objection. (Supporters of the bill reply the bill does not require manufacturers to release any security information, but instead only addresses hardware, or the actual physical parts.) Apple is joined in opposition by Samsung, medical device manufacturer Medtronic, and John Deere.
Rep. Jeff Barker (D-Portland) doesn't support the current version of the bill but hopes backers can "tailor a bill that doesn't go after super-secret information that industries have."