The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has told several automakers – including General Motors – not to comply with a Massachusetts vehicle telematics law.
According to a report by Reuters, U.S. auto safety regulators sent out a letter to automakers stating that they must comply with federal laws, and not a Massachusetts law that requires open remote access to vehicle telematics and vehicle-generated data. Known colloquially as the Right to Repair law, the NHSTA pointed out that any violations of Federal law are not to be tolerated.
“Open access to vehicle manufacturers’ telematics offerings with the ability to remotely send commands allows for manipulation of systems on a vehicle, including safety-critical functions such as steering, acceleration, or braking,” an NHTSA spokesperson said in a prepared statement. “[Bad actors] could utilize such open access to remotely command vehicles to operate dangerously, including attacking multiple vehicles concurrently.”
For reference, the current rendition of the Right to Repair law was put into effect back in 2020 after being cleared by a Massachusetts judge. This hotly contested charter seeks to permit independent repair shops to access a vehicle’s diagnostic data – which is typically sent to directly to dealers and manufacturers – thus allowing owners to seek repairs outside of the dealership network.
It’s worth noting that although the 2020 measure was overwhelming passed by voters – and supported by a majority of enthusiasts and independent shops – some automakers, including GM, have made the argument that the law has the potential to undermine data security. Additionally, they argue that the law is poorly written and impossible to comply with.
In contrast, some manufactures have stated that they intend to disable the vehicle telematics altogether. In response, the NHTSA stated that “this measure has its own adverse impacts on safety.”