It opens access to vehicle telematics previously considered proprietary by automakers.
The 2020 election in the United States is one that will live forever in the annals of American history. While the world is focused on who the next US president will be, all 50 states had a range of regional amendments, proposals, and laws for voters to decide upon. In Massachusetts, one such law most decidedly affects the automotive community. Specifically, it's the right to repair your own vehicle, or have someone of your choosing do the work.
Massachusetts established its right-to-repair law back in 2012. It required automakers to provide vehicle owners and independent repair shops access to the same diagnostic and repair information that dealerships use. In essence, it was a step to keep automakers and dealership networks from potentially monopolizing modern vehicle repairs, which are increasingly technical and electronic in nature and as such, increasingly expensive. The 2012 proposal passed with an overwhelming majority, but times and vehicle technology have changed since then.
A new measure was introduced in 2019 that would expand the law to specifically include vehicle telematics – data generated by the vehicle that covers everything from fuel mileage to engine RPM, GPS information, crash notification, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, diagnostics, and more. Telematics are transmitted wirelessly and collected by the vehicle manufacturer, and according to Masslive, most automakers consider the information to be proprietary. Having access to telematics can help mechanics suss out problems with a car, so the new measure was put up for a vote in Massachusetts among all the other items on the November 3 ballot.
Opponents to the measure claimed opening up access could lead to all kinds of bad things happening, including the unwanted collection of personal data and even illegal activities such as stalking owners by using stored GPS data. Engadget reports that automakers spent millions in campaigns opposing the legislation, but that didn't stop the measure from passing by a whopping 75 percent. Clearly it seems people want access to their data, and the precedent set in Massachusetts could set the tone for other states in the coming years.
As for Massachusetts, the updated law goes into effect starting with 2022 model year vehicles sold in the state.