Massachusetts voters pass right-to-repair expansion opening up car data

Voters approved a measure giving car owners and mechanics access to detailed telematics info.

One election night issue that has appears to have an answer already is the passage of Question 1 in Massachusetts, which asked voters to strengthen laws guaranteeing people are able to repair things they own. In this case, it focused on cars, preventing manufactures from locking third party repair shops and car owners out of advanced telematics data that’s increasingly being collected by vehicles via driver assistance tools.

Question 1 text - Motor Vehicle Mechanical Data
Question 1 text - Motor Vehicle Mechanical Data (Massachussetts 2020 Ballot Questions)

You can read the full text of Question 1 here (PDF), and the Associated Press projected it passed around 11 PM ET on Tuesday. iFixit called the legislation a “milestone” for the movement, seeing it as the start of a nationwide push to open up car data. According to iFixit founder Kyle Wiens, “This will be the most advanced Right To Repair law in the world, opening wireless automotive diagnostics and unleashing a world of possible apps.”

Automakers spent millions opposing the proposal, claiming that third parties wanted to scoop up information, violate privacy and possibly enable criminal acts. A now-inaccessible but archived page on the automaker-backed Coalition for Safe and Secure Data page said “It will allow these people to access very detailed information, including how, when and where a person drives. From this information, a third party, such as a sexual predator, could stalk and/or harm victims by exploiting insecure transmissions of vehicle information.”

The Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee had already declared victory as of 9 PM, and said in a statement that “The people have spoken—by a huge margin—in favor of immediately updating right to repair so it applies to today’s high-tech cars and trucks.”