Massachusetts' Right to Repair Law Finally Gets Go-Ahead From Feds
Right to repair is a contentious issue for all consumer products, especially smartphones and cars. Massachusetts voters approved a measure that would require automakers to open access to their over-the-air processes and data in 2020, but the feds only recently gave the okay for it to proceed after the NHTSA pumped the brakes.
Automakers argued that opening their software in such a way would create vulnerabilities that could be exploited by bad actors with severe consequences. The NHTSA got on board with the arguments and pushed pause on the initiative, with the Assistant Chief Counsel for Litigation and Enforcement, Kerry Kolodziej, saying, “A malicious actor here or abroad could utilize such open access to remotely command vehicles to operate dangerously, including attacking multiple vehicles concurrently. Vehicle crashes, injuries, or deaths are foreseeable outcomes of such a situation.”
Thankfully for right-to-repair advocates, the NHTSA reversed its position after reviewing existing regulations and reevaluating data security measures around over-the-air updates. Kolodziej said the “NHTSA strongly supports the right to repair. We are pleased to have worked with the Massachusetts Attorney General to identify a way that the MA Data Access Law may be successfully implemented – promoting consumers’ ability to choose independent or do-it-yourself repairs – without compromising safety.”
Though this is a great thing for almost everyone who doesn’t want to be charged an arm and a leg for car repairs, the reality is that some independent shops won’t be able to afford the complex diagnostic and repair equipment required to work on today’s new cars. Any improvement over the dealer’s sky-high hourly rates is welcome, though, as even high-end independent shops tend to be less expensive.
[Image: ronstik via Shutterstock]
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