BETHESDA, Md. — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reversed its position on Massachusetts' Data Access Law, stating that the law is not preempted by the federal vehicle safety act.
NHTSA's new position statement, issued Aug. 23, was applauded by the Auto Care Association (ACA), which said it appreciates NHTSA's willingness to revisit the issue as well as the continued support of the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General to support the
2020 Data Access Law. NHTSA issued a statement on June 13 notifying 22 vehicle makers with assembly operations in the U.S. that the agency's position was that provisions of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Safety Act) pre-empted Massachusetts' Right to Repair (R2R) law, and that complying with the Massachusetts law would "conflict with (their) obligations under the Safety Act."
More specifically, NHTSA said at that time that a malicious actor "could utilize such open access to remotely command vehicles to operate dangerously, including attacking multiple vehicles concurrently."
NHTSA's reversal elicited a positive response from the Auto Care Association (ACA) — a leading advocate for R2R — along with a message of support for the Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell for her "stalwart" efforts to ensure that vehicle manufacturers implement the Data Access Law safely and promptly.
As stated by the attorney general's office, the ACA stressed, evidence presented at the trial in Alliance for Automotive Innovation v. Campbell, No. 20-cv-12090 (D. Mass.), demonstrated that there are multiple approaches by which a vehicle manufacturer might implement the Data Access Law without violating the Federal Vehicle Safety Act or any other federal law.
Under the Data Access Law, the types of wireless communication technologies that such a platform might use include, but are not limited to: cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The ACA does not support a Bluetooth solution, as short-range wireless communication does not create the level playing field expected by the voters of Massachusetts.
The debate around R2R, including efforts to pass federal R2R legislation, will be a centerpiece of the ACA's Auto Care Legislative Summit scheduled for Sept. 20-22 in Washington D.C.