Right To Repair

Excellent piece on CBS Sunday Morning by David Pogue.https://youtu.be/tr3nZpNHWnw


Right to repair (for automobiles) is on the ballot in Massachusetts this November. The benefits are obvious, but opponents (car manufacturers and dealers) are claiming that it will lead to more domestic violence due to privacy of auto owners being violated when private information is shared from the car’s systems. …which is absolutely ridiculous. To try to link this to domestic violence just seems like a scare tactic to me because they literally have nothing they can say to stop people from voting for this in order to have more of a choice of where to get their cars repaired.

For more info: View on Ballotpedia

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@PDelahanty Yeah, this has me all confused. I’m a fan of right to repair, but this question bothers me. I think the scare tactics are just that. I actually asked @samabuelsamid about this last week in the chat room and he said that after reviewing the question he would vote no on this one.

My ballot is sitting waiting for me to fill out. I’m not sure which direction to go in. I’m all for right to repair, but I don’t understand what information in the telematics a mechanic would need.

As a non-American, I don’t even understand why this is a question. I bought it, it is mine, I have the right to repair it or do with it what I will, even give it to a third party to repair…


I looked into the ballot measure. While I wholeheartedly support the right to repair and think independent service providers should have access to all of the parts and tools required to make a repair, I think this particular measure goes a bit too far.

I think the domestic violence argument is ridiculous. If someone actually wanted to track a victim it would probably be a lot easier to just do it via smartphone.

However, opening up the data platform for vehicles potentially runs much higher risks from bad actors. I think by now we all know how hard it is to secure platforms and this would add another unneccessary attack surface to vehicles. As long as indepenedent shops or individuals can access all the data for diagnostics and repair when they have a physical access to the vehicle, that is sufficient.

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Actually we already have automotive right to repair in Massachusetts. It went onto affect seven years ago.

The current question is an extension that would require access to the wireless OnStar and similar type services that notify the manufacturer/dealers about upcoming preventative maintenance.

The Massachusetts Senate requested a review of the proposal by the NHTSA and they did so in conjunction with the NIST cybersecurity division. The report concluded that as currently written the change in the law would violate both NHTSA and NIST cybersecurity recommendations for automotive applications.

The yes on #1 side has been unable to find any cybersecurity experts that disagree with NHTSA/NIST concerns. If they could get an actual recognized cybersecurity (currently they are pushing a retired police chief as a cybersecurity expert) expert to disagree with the only expert review I might vote for the change.

Both sides on this issue are funded by large corporations who stand to make money on the outcome of this change in the law. The only organizations to weigh in who have no financial interest are the Massachusetts Senate investigative committee and the NHTSA/NIST.

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Yeah, this whole thing is a mess. @samabuelsamid, thank you for your input. I was hoping for someone more knowledgeable than me in this area to pipe in. IMHO, I can’t see the information in the telematics systems being necessary to do a car repair. I think the CON side is doing fear mongering.

I suspect the con side is probably taking this strategy to avoid highligting the cybersecurity risks that are inherent in connected vehicles anyway. The industry as a whole is making progress on making vehicles more secure, but no complex system can be guaranteed to be secure and vehicles are definitely complex.

Agree whole-heartedly with this. Why they added specific provisions for wireless and app-based communication is beyond me. Sounds like someone who has worked on more computers than cars had a lot of input on this. I can support an open data standard for diagnostic purposes, but this goes too far imho.

@big_D the question here isn’t really right to repair despite the title of the ballot question; of course anyone not in a lobbyist’s pocket supports that idea. The question here is how the government is mandating it. They’re specifically saying that auto manufacturers must install wireless radios in all vehicles and develop mobile apps for use by repair shops.

In 2007 I ran into a farmer who was waiting for his John Deere tractor to be repaired. He griped profusely about JD instant requirement that his tractor had to go 100 miles to an authorized location. Did not matter how small or trivial the problem. When he told JD “Its my own dam tractor” They said it is JD Property. (need to read the small print in those finance papers)

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I don’t know anything about farm equipment. I know other companies make tractors. But, some of the more specialty equipment - hopefully there are alternatives besides JD… So people can buy other brands and show their displeasure for John Deere

Well, the question passed in MA. Hopefully when they write this up, they put the necessary security in.


Tuesday, April 20th: U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group https://uspirg.org/ ) is hosting a webinar event, Right to Repair and the Road to Zero Waste, on Tuesday, April 20th at 3:00pm EST. The event is focused on electronic waste and the environmental impacts of electronics, including mining and climate change. Environmental organizations, representatives, and citizens interested in zero waste are encouraged to attend. RSVP here.

France has made all manufacturers label how repairable their devices are (removable batteries, standard screws, no glue on critical parts etc.), similar to the nutrition labels on food, and they are required to support the device and supply spare parts for at least 10 years.

The EU is looking to take it on as well.