As reported by GM Authority back in June 2023, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) demanded that major automakers – including General Motors – should not comply with the Massachusetts Right to Repair law. Now, the NHTSA has seemingly reversed course and acknowledged that automakers may follow the law.
According to a report from Reuters, U.S auto safety regulators stated that automakers could share diagnostic data with independent shops safely through the use of short-range wireless technologies. However, the administration warned that long-range wireless signals have the potential to be intercepted by hackers, who could then send dangerous commands to moving vehicles.
It’s worth noting that two Massachusetts senators praised the decision, and claimed that this decision will help to “ease burdens and lower costs for Massachusetts drivers.”
In response to this reversal, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation – a trade group representing major automakers – declined to comment. However, it had previously argued that the state law would require automakers “to remove essential cybersecurity protections from their vehicles.”
For reference, the current version of the Right to Repair law was put into effect back in 2020 after being cleared by a Massachusetts judge. This hotly contested piece of jurisprudence seeks to allow 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.