Massachusetts Passes Powerful Right-To-Repair Protection

Illustration for article titled Massachusetts Passes Powerful Right-To-Repair Protection
Graphic: Jason Torchinsky

Remember a few months ago, when we told you about a ridiculous fear-mongering campaign regarding a ballot initiative in Massachusetts that would protect the right for car owners to get access to the data their vehicles generate, so that owners and independent repair shops could work on cars with the same tool that manufacturers and dealers have access to? Sure you do. Well, good news, because it passed! This is an important right-to-repair event, and gives Massachusetts one of the strongest right-to-repair protections in America.

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Of course, this result is not what the Alliance for Automotive Innovation wanted, a group made up of pretty much every automaker selling cars in America today, and the group that was attempting to block passage of the initiative by trying to convince people that independent mechanics being able to access all the data your car generates would lead to sexual predators stalking you:

Illustration for article titled Massachusetts Passes Powerful Right-To-Repair Protection
Screenshot: YouTube
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Of course, that’s just fear-mongering, and no good reason was given why an independent mechanic would be more likely to use your car’s OBD data to stalk you than a dealership mechanic would.

It was a ridiculous ploy, and almost 75 percent of Massachusetts voters weren’t having it.

Here is the full text of the proposed law:

This proposed law would require that motor vehicle owners and independent repair facilities be provided with expanded access to mechanical data related to vehicle maintenance and repair.

Starting with model year 2022, the proposed law would require manufacturers of motor vehicles sold in Massachusetts to equip any such vehicles that use telematics systems –- systems that collect and wirelessly transmit mechanical data to a remote server –- with a standardized open access data platform. Owners of motor vehicles with telematics systems would get access to mechanical data through a mobile device application. With vehicle owner authorization, independent repair facilities (those not affiliated with a manufacturer) and independent dealerships would be able to retrieve mechanical data from, and send commands to, the vehicle for repair, maintenance, and diagnostic testing.

Under the proposed law, manufacturers would not be allowed to require authorization before owners or repair facilities could access mechanical data stored in a motor vehicle’s on-board diagnostic system, except through an authorization process standardized across all makes and models and administered by an entity unaffiliated with the manufacturer.

The proposed law would require the Attorney General to prepare a notice for prospective motor vehicle owners and lessees explaining telematics systems and the proposed law’s requirements concerning access to the vehicle’s mechanical data. Under the proposed law, dealers would have to provide prospective owners with, and prospective owners would have to acknowledge receipt of, the notice before buying or leasing a vehicle. Failure to comply with these notice requirements would subject motor vehicle dealers to sanctions by the applicable licensing authority.

Motor vehicle owners and independent repair facilities could enforce this law through state consumer protection laws and recover civil penalties of the greater of treble damages or $10,000 per violation.

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The repair-oriented website iFixit calls Question 1 a “milestone for the Right to Repair movement” and suggests it’s the nation’s “most advanced” right-to-repair law.

So, gearheads and tinkerers and anyone who doesn’t want to be railroaded to a dealership to get anything done, this is a victory!

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Hopefully, it’s a victory that will grow to nationwide status, too. We just need to keep standing up for our rights to repair our own cars, however we see fit.

See? There’s at least one good thing we can take from the election.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!: https://rb.gy/udnqhh)

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DISCUSSION

JohnnyWasASchoolBoy
JohnnyWasASchoolBoy

I love having a vehicle old enough that my “right to repair” is only governed by other jobs my wife might have waiting for me.