Cape Cod Auto Shops Pushing for Question 1

HYANNIS – Proponents of Question 1 on the November 3 ballot say that independent auto repair businesses need access to data collected by cars in order to fix vehicles, while opponents say that Question 1 could risk owner’s personal data as well as safety.

If Question 1 is approved, cars 2022 model or newer must be equipped by manufacturers with a standardized, open access platform that would allow auto repair shops to wirelessly access mechanical data using a smartphone-based app with owner’s permission.

Currently, telematics data generated by sensors in the cars is transmitted to servers only the automakers can access.

Supporters of Question 1 say that the telematics data only being available to the manufacturer means car owners must take the car to its original automaker to receive service and make repairs, diminishing consumer choice in where they can take their cars.

“If a person goes out and buys a car, they should own the data that enables that car to be fixed, and they should be able to choose where they want the car fixed. If shops like mine don’t have that information, then we can’t fix the car, which kind of forces someone to go to a place where they don’t want to go,” said Robert Wallace, President and Treasurer of Cape Tire and supporter of Question 1.

Wallace said that the limits on customer choice on where they can receive service for their car will lead to a monopolization of the industry by car manufacturers, with a rise in prices and a drop in quality service.

Wallace said that he and other supporters would be willing to purchase the data, similar to how the auto repair shops already purchase parts, and that they are not requesting that the data be made available for free.

“We’re willing to pay for it, we just want the information to keep our customers rolling.”

Conor Yunits, spokesperson for the Coalition for Safe and Secure Data which opposes Question 1, said that the issue of telematics is already covered under the right-to-repair-law that was introduced in 2013. 

“It specifically says that any information necessary to diagnose and repair a vehicle that is provided to dealer repair shops and only available through telematics must be made available to local repair shops. This is already covered,” said Yunits.

Yunits said that currently data is only sent to secure servers owned by manufacturers, then to repair shops or customers through secure systems developed with the automaker.

According to Yunits, Question 1 would prevent manufacturers from being a part of the development process of security systems and apps that share the information in the future, sacrificing a layer of security for consumers.

Yunits also said that Question 1 unnecessarily risks owners’ personal data by creating opportunities for bad actors outside as well as inside repair shops to access personal data wirelessly.

While mechanics or others may be able to intercept and use the data for malicious purposes, Wallace said that is a risk that comes with a lot of modern technology, such as cellphones and other smart devices that collect data on their users, and that it is up to the customer to decide whether they want to take that risk.

Yunits also said that Question 1 would also force car manufacturers to comply with an unrealistic timetable which would be impossible to do in a safe and effective manner, with new requirements that would be enforced as early as January 2021.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the CapeCod.com News Center in 2019.



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