Google made waves in the tech world this week by formally endorsing right to repair legislation and agreeing to lobby for laws that make it easier for consumers to fix their own devices. The move signals a major shift for one of the largest tech companies, which had previously fought against such consumer protection measures.
In a white paper published Thursday, Google said users “should have more control over repair” and endorsed policies to restrict tactics like “parts pairing” that make unauthorized repairs difficult. Later the same day, a Google executive was set to testify in support of a strong right to repair bill in Oregon.
The right to repair movement argues that device owners should have access to repair documentation, tools, and parts on fair terms. Advocates say this increases competition in repair markets, reduces e-waste from premature device replacement, and empowers consumers.
Tech giants like Apple have resisted such laws and artificially limited repairs in attempts to retain control. But Google’s blanket endorsement recognizes the momentum behind reform. Last year, three states passed ambitious electronics right to repair bills. With support from major players like Google now behind it, the consumer movement seems primed for more legislative victories.
Nathan Proctor of consumer rights group US PIRG called Google’s white paper “a win for consumers looking for affordable repair options” as well as companies that enable repair. It shows that even Big Tech names can embrace grassroots campaigns calling for more consumer device freedoms.
By backing right to repair, Google lends its powerful voice to the cause. Its support for comprehensive legislation that prohibits tactics impeding repair access demonstrates seriousness around reform. From easier Chromebook fixes to partnering with repair guide site iFixit, Google has been inching toward this change over the past year.
The full-throated endorsement of repair rights represents a welcome shift as the movement gains steam. More consumer tech leaders coming off the sidelines could be what finally turns the tide.
Not familiar with the right to repair movement? Louis Rossmann has it explained in 60 seconds: