Tesla fights new ‘Right to Repair’ initiative over cybersecurity concerns

Tesla is fighting a new “Right to Repair” initiative in Massachusetts, claiming it would weaken its cybersecurity.

Massachusetts, which has often led “Right to Repair” efforts, has a new initiative on the 2020 ballot called “Question 1” that aims to add electronic vehicle data to the scope of the Right to Repair law.

Here’s a summary of the new initiative:

“The measure would extend the state’s right to repair laws to include telematics systems. Telematics systems contain car data that is stored outside the vehicle and may include information that relates to navigation, GPS, and mobile internet. The measure would require cars sold in Massachusetts starting with the model year 2022 to equip any cars having telematics systems with a standardized open access data platform. Independent repair shops and mechanics would, with owner permission, automatically have access to the vehicle’s data to use it for diagnostics and car repair. Currently, this data may only be used by manufacturer repair shops unless permission is granted.”

Now, Tesla is contacting its customers in Massachusetts to lobby for them to vote against the measure, according to an email several Tesla owners reported having received today.

The automaker wrote in the email:

“As you go to the polls this fall, Tesla asks that you vote no on Question 1. Tesla has long applied an open source philosophy to our patented intellectual property for electric vehicles. In this spirit, we provide public access to our service, parts, and body repair manuals, wiring diagrams, service bulletins, labor codes and times, and other information used to perform mechanical, electrical, and collision repair work on our vehicles. Question 1 goes well beyond what is necessary to perform this work, and it potentially jeopardizes vehicle and data security. The requirements, pushed by two national auto shop lobbying groups, would make vehicles more vulnerable to cyberattacks and would make successful attacks more harmful.”

Tesla also notes that NHTSA supports its view that it could make vehicles more vulnerable to cyber threats.

The automaker urged Tesla owners to vote against the proposition and to spread the information.

Electrek’s Take

Tesla doesn’t have a great history with right to repair stuff, but to be fair, it has gotten better at opening on that front in recent years.

In 2018, Tesla released the parts catalog for its vehicles to the public, and last year, the company released new Do It Yourself maintenance instructions for its cars.

However, when it comes to more in-depth service, repair information, and access to parts, Tesla has notoriously been difficult to work with over the years.

Diagnostic tools are also very important for independent shops, but they are expensive to access.

It sounds like this new initiative would help with that, but I’m not knowledgeable enough about the cybersecurity concerns to weigh in either way.

What do you think? let us know in the comment section below.

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