Details of Question 1: Expanding Massachusetts’ Right to Repair Law

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Let's say you take your vehicle to a local auto mechanic and they can't fix your vehicle because they don't have access to mechanical data related to vehicle maintenance and repair. So you then have to take your vehicle to a dealership and, let's be honest, pay a lot more money because that's how dealerships roll.

That's what Question 1 is about. You should have access to all the diagnostic information to your vehicle, and also be able to have that info provided to whomever you want to have the info.

The Massachusetts Right to Repair coalition is leading the charge to say YES to Question 1. A YES vote on the ballot is explained as the following:

A YES VOTE would provide motor vehicle owners and independent repair facilities with expanded access to wirelessly transmitted mechanical data related to their vehicles’ maintenance and repair.

The Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition are comprised of 4,000 independent auto repair shops, local auto part stores, consumers and drivers who want consumers to have access to all of the repair and diagnostic information of their vehicles. Back in 2012, the Massachusetts Right to Repair coalition helped the Massachusetts Right to Repair law on the ballot and in the state legislature. That law gave independent auto repair spots the ability to be able to plug into a vehicle and help diagnose problems and it basically gave more choices of where to get their cars fixed.

Top donors for the coalition include hundreds of independent businesses as well as New York Stock Exchange listed companies Advance Auto Parts, which has more than 4,000 stores worldwide, and AutoZone, which has more than 6,000 stores across the globe.

If the ballot question passes, starting in 2022 auto manufacturers would be required to equip vehicles with an open-access platform for the diagnostic data. Vehicle owners could retrieve the diagnostics through an app that would need to be developed, and they could allow any repair shop they want to help in the repairs.

The ballot question explains a NO vote as the following:

A NO VOTE would make no change in the law governing access to vehicles’ wirelessly transmitted mechanical data.

Massachusetts residents have been bombarded with ads to vote no on Question 2. WCVB reported on who's funding the ads to vote no: General Motors - $5.4M; Toyota - $4.5M; Ford - $4.4M; Honda - $2.8M; and Nissan - $2.4M.

The ads try to scare voters into thinking that if local mechanics and owners of their own vehicles have access to diagnostics that it will lead to stolen identity, people being able to pinpoint where you are located, stolen personal information, and even stalking.

The Boston Globe tackled both sides of the ballot question and from talking to analysts, both sides are using fear mongering to support their cause -- but that's par for the course when it comes to politics. An interesting facet of the ballot question is that, if passed, a new safer cyber-secure platform would need to be created by the automakers and via a mobile app.

 

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