Trade Groups Challenge Mass.’ ‘Right to Repair’ Law, Which Could Have National Implications

Responding to a major ballot initiative that, if upheld, could potentially impact new cars’ telematics systems nationwide, major automotive trade groups have challenged a new Massachusetts law that provides independent mechanics and collision repair shops with greater access to vehicle data.

 In November, Massachusetts voters passed a landmark “right to repair” ballot question, which, beginning with model year 2022, requires OEMs who sell vehicles with telematics systems to “equip them with a standardized open data platform” that makes it easier for independent repair shops to access them.

However, manufacturers and industry trade associations, including the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, have called the ballot initiative a potential cybersecurity threat. Back in July, the Alliance warned Congressional leaders that the new law could make two-way vehicle data more easily accessible to hackers, allowing them to take control of vehicles even while in operation. NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens told the leaders of the Massachusetts General Court that the ballot initiative would “prohibit manufacturers from complying with both existing Federal guidance and cybersecurity hygiene best practices.”

In November, following the passing of the ballot amendment, the Alliance filed a lawsuit in federal court against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, seeking to halt implementation of the law. Attorney General Healey filed a response last month, seeking an expedited bench trial on the matter in early 2021.

Given that Massachusetts’ 2012 “right to repair” law led to a national memorandum of understanding signed by major auto representatives on the matter, it is quite reasonable to think that the 2020 law could have a similar impact, with major repercussions for OEMs and dealers alike. We will keep you updated as the challenge to the new state law progresses.

Download Bulletin PDF