Massachusetts passes “right to repair” law to open up car data

Massachusetts voters approved a measure requiring car manufacturers to let people access vehicle data for repairs. Question 1 amends a landmark 2012 “right to repair” law in the state. After it’s adopted, manufacturers will have until car model year 2022 to install a standard open data platform. The platform will let vehicle owners and independent mechanics access telematics, wirelessly transmitted data that is typically sent directly to a remote server.

Right to repair advocates hailed the measure — which passed with 75 percent approval — as a victory. “Tuesday’s victory shows that people overwhelmingly support fair repair,” wrote iFixit’s Kevin Purdy. “And they want people they trust to fix the things they own.” As cars become increasingly computerized, telematics contain important mechanical data that aids in repairs — and by controlling that data, manufacturers could limit “unauthorized” third-party repairs. The original Massachusetts bill, while groundbreaking, didn’t cover this wirelessly transmitted information. Question 1 will grant users access via a smartphone app.

Massachusetts has been a key battleground for right to repair advocates, who successfully fought claims that Question 1 posed a security risk to car owners. While the state’s law is unique, making companies comply could effectively drive a nationwide standard.

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