An association of auto manufacturers today filed suit against Massachusetts to block the access to computerized vehicle information that voters just this month decided the companies have to provide.
In their suit, filed in US District Court in Boston, the Alliance For Automotive Innovation repeats the warnings of their failed ad campaign that the measure would let stalkers and other dangerous people gain access to the data collected by onboard computers on more modern vehicles - not to mention the way auto-parts chains, which backed the other side, would use the information to upsell customers on parts.
But the alliance adds the new law is unconstitutional, because it violates the Supremacy Clause that gives federal law and regulations primacy over any state laws, in this case, "regarding a host of consumer safety and intellectual property protections." And by mandating car makers let repair shops access the stored data on penalty of fines, the new law " takes auto manufacturers’ private property without providing just compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment as incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."
The alliance says auto makers have gone to considerable expense and trouble to develop vehicle data systems that run today's vehicles while remaining secure from hackers and even whole nation-states out to harm the US.
The Data Law would upend the careful balance struck among three goals: maintaining tight access controls to sensitive vehicle data; protecting manufacturers’ intellectual property rights; and allowing consumers and the repair shops of their choice access to any data necessary for vehicle diagnosis, repair, or maintenance. In place of that balance, the Data Law charts a course into the unknown—requiring auto manufacturers such as Auto Innovators’ members to abandon their existing, secure vehicle systems and develop entirely new, “open access” systems that allow third parties to pull, push, and rewrite vehicle data (and in some cases, push software updates) at will, which could affect the actual functionality and safety of the vehicle
The complaint adds that Massachusetts repair shops can already access the diagnostic data they need to repair computerized vehicles but that the new law would then let criminals access systems that no legitimate shop would ever need to get data or beam commands to:
This includes Controller Area Network (CAN) bus messages that communicate among a vehicle’s electronic control units to allow the vehicle to perform core vehicle functions like acceleration, steering, and braking. ...
Because of the importance of secure vehicle systems to vehicle safety, Auto Innovators’ members do not allow anyone - customer, dealer, or third party - unrestricted access to those systems beyond what is necessary for diagnosis, maintenance, and repair without a valid license or the member’s express permission. Unauthorized access and modification of vehicle data at will could create significant safety concerns, resulting in untold amounts of liability risk for auto manufacturers.
The suit, filed specifically against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who would oversee enforcement of the law, seeks a ruling that the new law cannot be enforced because it would violate the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, the federal Clean Air Act, federal copyright, trade-secrets and data-security laws and is an unconstitutional "taking" of auto-company property - in this case the intellectual property embodied in the auto systems.
More immediately, the companies are asking for a preliminary injunction - followed by a permanent one - to block the new law. They also want to be reimbursed for their costs and lawyers' fees.