On Jan. 13, the Massachusetts Legislature held the first hearing on legislation that would ensure consumers would have access to the repair data generated by their vehicle. Held in the biggest hearing room in the Massachusetts Statehouse, the room was packed with repair shop owners and technicians, as well as representatives from the major parts retailers and tool suppliers — providing a major show of support for the new legislation the auto care industry in the state, according to the Auto Care Association.
The three-and-a-half hour-long hearing featured testimony from multiple shop owners who discussed the need for the current Right to Repair law to be amended to ensure that car owners have access to wireless repair and diagnostic data generated by most late model vehicles. Opponents of the legislation, mainly trade groups representing car and truck manufacturers, countered that the law was not necessary, and it would expose an extensive amount of a driver’s personal information. Manufacturers further alleged that making data available would make critical vehicle safety systems vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
However, legal experts explained to legislators that the bill was specifically worded to only require access to repair and diagnostic data, ensuring that personal information would be protected. Further, cyber experts and law enforcement representatives including former Boston police commissioner Ed Davis told committee members that car owners should have the ability to control data generated by their vehicles and that such action could be taken cyber securely. Technology experts additionally pointed out that there were international standards that could be utilized in order to protect vehicle data and that manufacturers already had the ability to separate out personal data from mechanical data in order to ensure protection for car owner privacy.
In its news release announcing the details of the hearing, the Auto Care Association stated, “The hearing clearly was a great day for car owners and the independent auto care industry both in the demonstration of support for the bill, but also in combatting vehicle manufacturers attempts to scare the legislature regarding cybersecurity and privacy. The Auto Care Association would like to thank all of its members who took time out of their busy schedule to come to Boston for this important event.”
The Legislature now has until May 15 to determine whether to pass the bill and therefore negate the need for a ballot measure that has been filed by the Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee that would mandate access to vehicle diagnostic and repair data.
A full recording of the hearing can be viewed here.