Opponents of ballot Question 1 — the so-called Right-to-Repair law — claim that it could make the public less safe by expanding the availability of car-repair data, while proponents say the proposed law would allow consumers to be the gatekeepers of that information.
A similar law passed in 2012, mandating that manufacturers give any local repair shops that car owners brought their vehicles to the same diagnostic and repair information that auto makers gave to franchise dealers.
But today, up to 90% of new cars have telematics — sensors that collect that data in real time — something the 2012 law didn’t foresee, said Tommy Hickey, director of the Right to Repair Coalition, a group of 1,600 independent repair shops.
“Your car is now a computer on wheels, and we feel you should get to decide who repairs it and where that data goes,” Hickey said. “In 2012, voters asked for a level playing field: Whatever the dealer got, the car repair shop got. Now, because of telematics, dealers have found a way to circumvent that.”
But Conor Yunits, a spokesman for the Coalition for Safe and Secure Data, which represents 16 automakers, claims that data collected through telematics is not necessary to repair cars because it’s used for other things, such as turn-by-turn navigation and emergency crash notification.
“Repair information already is available to independent repair shops,” Yunits said. “There is no need at all for Question 1.”
If anything, he said, the proposed law, if passed, would give hackers the ability to upload code to vehicles and could lead to malware and ransomware being uploaded to cars.
“It creates an unnecessary cybersecurity risk,” Yunits said.
Hickey dismissed that argument as a scare tactic, adding that hacking already exists today.
“This can be done in a safe and secure way,” he said. “There is no GPS information that would be shared. This is about mechanical information necessary to diagnose and repair your car. Car manufacturers are already giving this information to dealerships. Voting no isn’t going to stop the collection of this data. Voting yes empowers as a car owner to get direct access to that information through an app on your phone or on your car dashboard.”