Auto Industry Pushes Bullshit Claim That 'Right To Repair' Laws Aid Sexual Predators

from the fear-mongering-ahoy dept

A few years back, frustration at John Deere’s draconian tractor DRM culminated in a grassroots tech movement dubbed “right to repair.” The company’s crackdown on “unauthorized repairs” turned countless ordinary citizens into technology policy activists, after DRM (and the company’s EULA) prohibited the lion’s share of repair or modification of tractors customers thought they owned. These restrictions only worked to drive up costs for owners, who faced either paying significantly more money for “authorized” repair, or toying around with pirated firmware just to ensure the products they owned actually worked.

Of course the problem isn’t just restricted to John Deere. Apple, Microsoft, Sony, and countless other tech giants eager to monopolize repair have made a habit of suing and bullying independent repair shops and demonizing consumers who simply want to reduce waste and repair devices they own. This, in turn, has resulted in a growing push for right to repair legislation in countless states.

To thwart these bills, companies have been ramping up the use of idiotic, fear mongering arguments. Usually these arguments involve false claims that these bills will somehow imperil consumer privacy, safety, and security. Apple, for example, tried to thwart one such bill in Nebraska by claiming it would turn the state into a “mecca for hackers.”

While there’s been no shortage of bad faith arguments like this, the auto industry in Massachusetts has taken things to the next level. The state is contemplating the expansion of an existing state law that lets users get their vehicles repaired anywhere they’d like. In a bid to kill these efforts, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents most major automakers, has taken to running ads in the state falsely claiming that the legislation would aid sexual predators:

The primary message of the ads is that if we allow people to more easily repair their vehicles, data from said vehicles will somehow find itself in the hands of rapists, stalkers, and other menaces. Granted actual experts have made it abundantly clear that this is utterly unfounded. The existing law requires that automakers use a non-proprietary diagnostic interface so any repair shop can access vehicle data using an ordinary OBD reader. It also makes sure that important repair information is openly accessible. The update to said law simply attempts to close a few loopholes in the existing law:

“Question 1 seeks to close a loophole in that earlier law, which exempted cars that transmitted this data wirelessly. As cars become even more computerized, independent repair shops are worried that manufacturers will do away with the OBD port and will store this data wirelessly, exempting them from the earlier law. The new initiative simply guarantees that car owners and independent repair companies can access this data wirelessly without “authorization by the manufacturer,” and requires car manufacturers to store this data in a secure, “standardized, open-access platform.”

One local ABC affiliate in Massachusetts thoroughly debunked the ads’ claims. Experts told Matthew Gault at Motherboard that the real goal of the auto industry here is to simply shift all of this diagnostic tech to wireless to wiggle around the law. In part to maintain a monopoly on repair (letting them drive up the cost of taking your vehicle to the dealership), but also to further obscure all the driving, location, and other data automakers are collecting and selling to a long list of companies:

“My guess is what automakers really don’t want to talk about is all of the data that they are collecting from connected vehicles that they’re not telling us about,? Paul F Roberts, founder of Securerepairs?a group of security and repair professionals who advocate for security and repair issues?told Motherboard on the phone.

?The backup safety cameras that go on every time you put your car in reverse, are those on all the time and are they observing your surroundings and inferring data about your whereabouts and preferences?? Roberts said. ?The in-cabin cameras that we know Tesla has on their cars, are those just monitoring you all the time? are they monitoring your GPS data and mining that or selling that? We don?t know.”

Of course they’re collecting and selling that data with minimal oversight. The United States still lacks any meaningful privacy laws for the modern era, in part because many of these same companies have opposed such legislation. Because it’s hard for the auto industry to honestly admit it wants to monopolize repair, drive up consumer costs, and obfuscate the wholesale hoovering up and sale of your data, they’ve apparently concocted a grotesque bullshit narrative that the legislative updates will somehow aid sexual predators. Stay classy, Alliance for Automotive Innovation!

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Comments on “Auto Industry Pushes Bullshit Claim That 'Right To Repair' Laws Aid Sexual Predators”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: WTF?

Congressman: "Yes sir. Good thing we thwarted sexual predators by ensuring the auto industry’s monopoly on vehicle repairs."

Random Idiot: "Doesn’t that mean the auto industry has admitted to profiting off of sexual predators and having colluded with the government, specifically you, to ensure they can keep doing so?"

Congressman: "…"

Random Idiot: "…"

Congressman: "Well, shit."

News flash: "If it sounds absurd on it’s face, it probably is. Film at 11."

Anonymous Coward says:

this sort of fucking total bullshit could only happen in the ‘Land of the Free, Home of the Brave’! how the hell we arrived at a place where whatever it is we buy still isn’t ours, that we’ve only bought the right to use it but not change it, modify it, mend it, improve it, is completely beyond me and extremely biased against us, the paying customer! this needs changing totally, completely, utterly and immediately! we buy things, pay for things they should therefore be ours to do with what we see fit, not tie us to the seller or the maker because they are so afraid of losing control of the product they ACTUALLY WANT AND ENCOURAGE US TO BUY! and the judges who voted this absurdity in need stringing up by the balls for going against the public, because we couldn’t, were not allowed to encourage them to use sense instead of greed to arrive at the ruling!

David says:

Re: Re:

and the judges who voted this absurdity in need stringing up by the balls for going against the public,

Judges implement laws, they don’t create them. This is what lawmakers are for. Unfortunately the way Congress has been set up, there is no place for individual lawmakers to represent interests of the people rather than of their party. For example, McConnell does not allow anything to get a vote on the Senate floor that is of no interest to the Republican party line.

So Congress does no longer function as a democratic institution. Fixing that is not in the interest of the incumbent major parties; it’s only in the interest of The People. And as long as representatives in Congress are primarily representing the interests of their party (which are to a good degree based on the monetary gains they can make by following lobbying interests) rather than that of the populace, this is not going to change.

And judges are not the ones who would be able to do anything about that.

Cdaragorn (profile) says:

Re: Re:

could only happen in the ‘Land of the Free, Home of the Brave’!

I’m not sure if you just insult the US no matter what or really have that poor an understanding on what’s happening in the rest of the world around copyright and similar laws but you need to look around.

The law is actually more sane here despite the very real problems it has. At least I generally can’t get thrown in prison based purely on an accusation (literally without proof) that I broke copyright law. And that’s just one basic example of the insanity going on all around the world with regards to "IP".

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"…how the hell we arrived at a place where whatever it is we buy still isn’t ours, that we’ve only bought the right to use it but not change it, modify it, mend it, improve it, is completely beyond me and extremely biased against us, the paying customer!"

Welcome to libertarianism where government is not intended to enforce the level playing field.

Ironically the far more heavily socialized EU member states do not have these problems – though as IP laws keep creeping into trade treaties pushed by the US that may change.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
David says:

Let's just take them at face value.

They state what amounts to

Our cars collect data valuable to sex predators and make it available to who we want.
The answer to that is not "please continue to select who you are going to make this available to and don’t tell us about it". It’s "stop doing that".

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
David says:

Re: Let's just take them at face value. (reformatted)

They state what amounts to

Our cars collect data valuable to sex predators and make it available to who we want.

The answer to that is not "please continue to select who you are going to make this available to and don’t tell us about it". It’s "stop doing that".

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

"The primary message of the ads is that if we allow people to more easily repair their vehicles, data from said vehicles will somehow find itself in the hands of rapists, stalkers, and other menaces."

Am I to believe there are no rapists, stalkers, and other menaces working for the vehicle maker? That is quite the stretch.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

In a bid to kill these efforts, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents most major automakers, has taken to running ads in the state falsely claiming that the legislation would aid sexual predators

Oh please, it’s well known (read: highly likely) that every sexual predator in the last 30 years has used a car at least once in their life, so we know car manufactures are already eagerly aiding and abetting them.

/s

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radix (profile) says:

It’s getting hard to keep track of all this. Section 230 causes sexual predators. Owning what you buy causes sexual predators. It’s a hell of a boogyman to push all sorts of agendas.

Can we get a campaign to promote copyrights of over 10 years causing sexual deviancy? Maybe this super power can be used for good.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Let's run with that shall we?

If the data that the cars collect is so valuable to criminals of all stripes that opens up the question, exactly how good is the security of the systems that data is stored on? Because if it’s really that valuable then it seems pretty obvious that criminals would want to go after all the data, not just what they can get from a few cars.

Going even further it seems to me that the proper response to a manufacturer claiming that the data their vehicles collect is of great interest to sexual predators would be to prohibit them from collecting that data in the first place, only allowing the collection of just what they need at that moment, and requiring the destruction of the data as soon as it’s no longer needed.

Anonymous Coward says:

This trying to capture the repairs and the profits they bring in is nothing new. Even the OBO readers went through this same BS. Only with the OBO readers, the codes were claimed to be propitiatory and trademark secrets.

Since shade tree mechanics couldn’t get the codes it near wiped out third party repair places. Repair expenses went through the roof. Authorized mechanics often couldn’t repair the cars with the new computer driven data. They weren’t up to speed on it.

It was around this time I stopped buying American built vehicles because for their expense, they were designed to fail at around 100k miles. Things would just start failing and falling apart, needing repair. Sure many people will tell you they got much more life out of their vehicles but as time went on, failures became more and more often.

I went to foreign makes, paying around a 1/4 to 1/2 as much again yet getting 3 times the life out of the vehicle before needing repairs. Since that time, US makers have teamed with those who had better products to make a longer lasting vehicle.

Now it’s other things like the farm tractor and farm equipment. Right now you could not give me a John Deere for the same sorts of reasons I dropped buying American cars long ago. It’s not worth the hassle and price to have one. Make a better product without the restrictions I’ll seriously consider it over the maker who wants to lock down their product. In the end, it destroys buyer loyalty, just as it did me.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"I went to foreign makes, paying around a 1/4 to 1/2 as much again yet getting 3 times the life out of the vehicle before needing repairs. Since that time, US makers have teamed with those who had better products to make a longer lasting vehicle. "

Yeah that was the time where Japanese and German cars beat GM hands down and US car manufacturers went bellyup by the dozen while an ever more desperate white house hollered "Please! Buy American!" at the top of their lungs when what they should have screamed was "Please stop building shoddy crap!".

Today the main reason the US industry is being outcompeted by China is exactly this – US businessmen have the short-term view of making more profit for a few years. In China many entrepreneurs want their business to flourish ten generations down the road and act accordingly. Didn’t help that US business owners couldn’t wait to just have China do all the manufacturing either, selling off the long-term win for the sake of better profits next quarter.

The shoddy product can’t win against actual consumer satisfaction in the long run. US industry didn’t want to learn this and once they had to they just had some other country pick up the "burden" of manufacturing the goods.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Sure, keep us from repairing our cars.
In trade you will need to have cutting edge protection for all of the data you gain about us, that we can verify with 3rd parties (at YOUR cost), detailed information about who you sell this data to, how much you are making oh and lets not forget to throw in an ACTUAL penalty that will hurt like hell when you leak our data.

Still interested?

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