What just happened? The right-to-repair battle continues to rage on across the United States. Tech-savvy folks are fighting for the right to disassemble, reassemble, and reverse-engineer the products they own without being subject to legal repercussions or voided warranties. Fortunately for them, a significant right-to-repair victory has been achieved in Massachusetts: a newly-passed law will force carmakers to give owners and repair shops "expanded" access to mechanical data about their vehicles.
Starting with vehicle model year 2022, car manufacturers that use telematics system in their vehicles -- systems that "collect and wirelessly transmit" mechanical data to remote servers -- must make that information available via a standardized open access data platform.
According to the ballot measure (which passed with 75 percent approval), this data would be accessible via a mobile app for vehicle owners. And, so long as the owner in question agrees to do so, the data can be shared with and retrieved by repair facilities; even those who aren't associated with any given carmaker.
Notably, access authorization cannot be required by carmakers, unless the authorization method is standardized across all makes and models and is administered by an entity "unaffiliated" with a given manufacturer.
All in all, this law's success is great news for right-to-repair advocates, and the public as a whole. After all, nothing is stopping customers from getting their vehicles repaired through "official" means if they so choose -- this just gives them more opportunities to pursue other options if necessary or advantageous for them.
We look forward to seeing how this law's passage will affect the rest of the automotive industry outside of Massachusetts. It's possible that carmakers will simply decide to open up telematic system access universally, instead of creating an app and manufacturing branch specific to Massachusetts customers -- only time will tell.