Representatives from the Auto Care Association and its membership met with James Owens, deputy administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), on Friday, July 24, to discuss the data access referendum that will be included as “Question 1” on the ballot for Massachusetts voters this November. A vote in favor of Question 1 would give Massachusetts vehicle owners the ability to access their mechanical data and to provide authorization to share that data with their independent repair shops. The meeting focused on a July 20 letter the NHTSA sent to Massachusetts state legislators echoing the contention of the automakers that access to data by vehicle owners would create cyber security concerns.
Auto Care President and CEO Bill Hanvey took issue with the agency releasing the letter without first approaching the association to address its concerns. “We would have preferred to have the opportunity to present information on how data can be safely and securely transmitted between a vehicle and the owner before your letter was released,” said Hanvey. Hanvey further stated that the NHTSA’s letter was being used by the vehicle manufacturers to unnecessarily scare Massachusetts voters from supporting Question 1.
During the meeting with NHTSA, Auto Care representatives discussed the importance of data access to ensure car owners continue to have choices in where they have their vehicle repaired, Auto Care cyber security and diagnostic tool experts shared how data can be shared cyber-securely — pointing out that industry standards developed by vehicle engineers around the world are already in place that would permit owners to control access to their mechanical data.
“These standards not only ensure mechanical data can be controlled by owners, but they provide significant protections for critical vehicle safety systems from improper intrusions,” said Hanvey.
Owens thanked the association and its members for the detailed discussion of the cybersecurity issue and declared that the NHTSA supports right to repair and the need for owner’s access to data. Owens further offered to work with the association to develop a better understanding of the measures being proposed by the Auto Care Association in order to permit the secure transmission of data.
“We look forward to continuing discussions with the NHTSA on the need for competition in the vehicle repair industry and the Auto Care Association is confident that NHTSA will recognize the extensive work being done by expert engineers globally so that vehicle owners can control the mechanical data being transmitted by their vehicle,” said Hanvey.