Understanding Both Sides in the 2020 Right to Repair Ballot Question

Both sides are spending millions to win in the Nov. 3 election

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Right to Repair is on the ballot in November -- again.

This time it's to update the law that passed by voter referendum in 2013. That law requires that independent repair shops have the same access as automakers to the vehicle computer information used to diagnose problems.

But supporters of Right to Repair say there was a carve-out in that 2013 law that excluded wireless technology -- a new, remote diagnostic system called telematics, now installed in 90% of new cars.

“What that does is give car manufacturers a monopoly on any wirelessly generated data, repair and diagnostic,” said Tommy Hickey is the spokesperson in favor of Right to Repair. “It gives them all the information necessary to fix cars and allows them to shut out independent repair shops and owners.”

Sue O'Oonnell sat down with Tommy Hickey, director of the Right to Repair Coalition, who is hoping to help pass question 1 in Massachusetts this November.

Not true, say opponents of the ballot question.

“The law specifically requires that all information necessary to diagnose and repair of vehicle must be made available to local mechanics and it includes telematics information,” said Conor Yunits, a spokesperson against the ballot question.

“No on 1” says this is really about the big funders of the ballot question, auto part chain stores, trying to get a hold of the wireless technology that transmits information off your car.

Sue O'Connell sat down with Conor Yunits, spokesperson for the "No on 1" campaign and the Coalition for Safe and Secure Data, to hear why the group is opposed to the initiative proposed by Question 1 on the Massachusetts ballot.

“What question one would do is unlock real time location data. That’s exactly what the yes folks are after,” Yunits said.

Hickey countered, “The car manufacturers have done a great job of confusing people. They’re using scare tactics.”

“Yes on 1” says an updated law would give cars owners access to all the diagnostic repair information from that wireless system to pass on to their local repair shop if they choose to do so. But “No on 1” says, once you open that door and give access to that computer, you can’t re-lock it.

“It will be extremely easy for anyone with malicious intent to get into these systems, and manipulate them," Yunits said.

Hickey disagreed: “The ballot initiative calls on all this information to be done in a safe and secure way just as the car manufacturers say they do now.”

Both sides are spending millions to win in the Nov. 3 election.

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