Auto mechanics

Vineyard auto mechanics worried about the ballot

Martha’s Vineyard independent auto repair shops don’t want to see a no vote on state ballot question 1, the right to repair. The question of the ballot revolves around telemetry software common to modern vehicles, and increasingly essential for diagnosing and repairing them. Vineyard mechanics say if a no vote is successful, they will eventually be left out of repairing modern vehicles. However, a representative from the Coalition for Safe and Secure Data says that is not true, that current Massachusetts law protects independent mechanics’ access to digital data needed to repair modern vehicles, and that a vote no simply prevents an insecure mode of data sharing from being mandated.

The non-profit, non-partisan political web encyclopedia Ballotpedia breaks down the questions as follows: “A ‘yes’ supports the requirement for manufacturers who sell vehicles with telemetry systems in Massachusetts to equip them with a platform. Standardized open data form, starting with model year 2022, this vehicle owners and independent repair centers can access to retrieve mechanical data and run diagnostics through a mobile app.

A ‘No’ is against vehicles, starting in model year 2022, being equipped with a standardized open data platform that vehicle owners and independent repair shops can access to retrieve mechanical data and run diagnostics via a mobile app, now as well as vehicle owners and independent repair shops can access mechanical and diagnostic data via a personal computer.

Michael deBettencourt, Third Generation Oak Bluffs Four Generation Repair Shop Operator Nelson J. deBettencourt and Sons, said: “I would vote yes.” If ‘no’ were to pass, said deBettencourt, “it could really strangle us. It could really put people out of business.

DeBettencout said that when someone buys a car, “it doesn’t belong to the dealership, it belongs to the person. People should be able to do whatever they want. This is America. “

Cheryl Noyes, who heads Al Noyes Automotive’s office in Edgartown, said a no vote “would bankrupt us”.

“It’s basically about giving independent stores like us a chance to fight the dealerships,” said Koren Boyd, operations manager at Vineyard Alternative Auto in Vineyard Haven. She argued for a yes vote to avoid giving what she described as a repair “monopoly” to dealerships. She also said it would be unfair, “costly” and “time consuming” to ask winegrowers to leave the island regularly for repairs, and a gamble to do a lot of work in one day.

Jesse Conroy, President of Courtesy Motors at Vineyard Haven, said: “It is sort of essential to vote yes if you want your vehicle to be taken care of on the island.

David Pothier, owner of Cars Unlimited in Edgartown, has said he’s not sure exactly what will happen regardless of how the vote goes, but he’s arguing for a yes vote. In part, he said, he’s worried Vineyard motorists won’t be able to get the auto care they need without going to an off-island dealership.

“Can you imagine having to go to a dealership every time your car breaks down?” ” He asked. “Here I have a lot of factory tools from Chrysler, Ford, GM, and Isuzu, so I mean, I have the information the dealers have. I pay dearly for it, but I have it.

He said the information is contained in a laptop computer. Using this laptop, for any vehicle software update, he said he goes online to buy a piece of code called a token.

“Then I go to a second website and insert this token, which gives me permission to go to a third website, which contains the software. So before I even start on your car, it’s $ 111, and I haven’t even brought the car to the store yet, I’m just getting ready to do a software update.

Pothier said he was not sure how things changed in terms of costs and access after the ballot was ruled, but he expected manufacturers to exploit any loophole in a yes vote that they are able to operate.

As to whether providing telemetry data to independent garages gives vehicle owners some type of additional data exposure, he said the modern vehicle operator is still tracked by the manufacturer and the dealership as it is. is, and that they can even listen to you.

“It’s just a different world with these cars,” he said. He used a smartphone as an example. If you have a conversation with someone on a topic of interest, suddenly “there is publicity for what you were talking about.” Is it a coincidence, or are they actually listening? “

He went on to say, “They know where you are, how you drive, they know everything anyway. It’s not a secret.

He summed up his opinion in terms of cost, convenience and choice for owners of Vineyard vehicles.

“Especially here you can’t have a problem and then tell them to go to a dealership,” he said. “You know, I bring your car and charge you X amount of dollars to diagnose your car and then I say, ‘Thanks, by the way, you have to go to a dealership to fix it. I should be able to fix it no matter what, whether it’s under warranty or not. It should be the customer’s choice, not their choice.

Conor Yunits, spokesperson for the Coalition for Safe and Secure Data, told The Times that current Massachusetts law already ensures that independent repair shops will have access to repair software, whether through OBDs (diagnostic ports). embedded), interfaces primarily manual or telemetry (via wireless data). He added that the current law requires this information to be provided by car manufacturers under “fair and reasonable conditions”. He added: “This language is not changed by question 1.”

“OBD ports are not going to go away,” he said. “Even if they left, the existing law covers this stuff.”

Yunits said the election battle was not about access to information. “If it was just about sharing information, we wouldn’t have this fight,” he said.

This is, he said, a request from independent mechanics to train a new data platform to relay all telemetry data generated by 2022 model year vehicles. said some of these vehicles could be delivered to Bay State within 60 days of the polling decision. The platform would be a cybersecurity threat, he said, potentially ripe for malware and ransomware. As written, he said, the voting initiative states that “automakers cannot control access to the platform, it must be an independent entity.”

He said who manages the security of such a platform is in question. “And it’s on such a rushed schedule; it is impossible to do these things, ”he said.

Yunits also said the platform will provide access to real-time location data.

The main funding for the yes vote comes from an auto parts lobby made up of places like NAPA and O’Reilly, who want access to the data, he said. “It’s data entry,” he said.

He admitted that the automakers are the lobbies behind the coalition he works for. On a leaflet from its coalition, GM, Toyota, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Kia, Subaru, BMW and Volvo are among the main donors listed.

The two campaigns grossed nearly $ 50 million combined, according to the state’s Campaign and Political Finance Office. Supporters spent $ 16.7 million and the opposition spent $ 15.5 million, the data showed.

Some non-voting TV commercials depict scenes where data gleaned from a yes vote could be harvested by predators to target lonely people in their cars in places like parking lots.

Cheryl Noyes did not buy into this idea. “No credibility in it,” she said.

Aquinnah Police Chief Randhi Belain commented on the matter on behalf of his colleagues.

“On behalf of the Martha’s Vineyard Association of Chiefs of Police,” he wrote, “we respectfully take no position on issue 1”. Belain went on to write, “We have contacted the executive director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association to see if the MA Chiefs of Police Association has taken a position on question 1 and not.”