Right To Repair
Hey, everyone. Welcome to the gadget lab I'm lowering good I'm a senior writer at wired and I'm joined remotely by my Co host wired's editor Michael Kouri, Hey Mike. and. We're also joined by wired senior associate editor Julian Takata who's dialing in from new. York Hey Julian. All right. Thanks for joining me today. Today, we're talking about the right to repair. So right to repair something that can be pretty personal to people because a lot of us have stories about trying to get our. Ix or appliances fixed in later in the show, we're going to talk about our own repairability gripes and experiences. But first we're GONNA go to Massachusetts virtually because there's a ballot measure there that could have far reaching consequences. So I'm going to give a quick synopsis of what's going on and then I'll ask Mike and Julian for their takes back in two thousand twelve Massachusetts passed a law that would give car owners and independent repair shops access to mechanical information from your Cards on-board-diagnostics Port, you used to have to go to a dealership for a lot of repairs and now anyone could plug it dangle into the OB, deport and diagnose the problems with your car. Now, this was seen as a big win for the Little Guy Consumers and India repair shops, and it was a landmark law the first of its kind in the United States. But a lot has changed technologically since then cars have basically become computers on wheels. So repair coalitions started pushing a new law that would update the existing law, and now this year that is questioned one on the Massachusetts ballot. It expands the kind of data that consumers and repair shops would have access to to include wireless telematics. So telematics, what is that? We'll telematics. Broadly, it can mean mileage entire pressure and things like that. But it can also encompass a pretty significant amount of data can refer to location speed idling time harsh acceleration or braking. It could mean a lot and as the ballot measures written now it's kind of unclear what it's referring to. So we now have right to repair advocates voting pretty much fever of this update to the law to keep up with the times and make sure that consumers have access to or ownership of the data from their car but opponents to this measure. Particularly, this one group that's got a lot of money from the big automakers is saying. nope. They have a lot of concerns with ballot measure. In this summer they unleashed. We'll just call it a fudd campaign, which we're GONNA talk about. Okay. So I want to get your thoughts and Mike I'm going to go to you first because you're from Massachusetts right. Genetically I'm from Massachusetts yes. I was born in Boston. Okay. So what's your take on this? Well I think it is kind of interesting that. The major opponents here for GM and Toyota, they have been citing safety issues as the reason why third parties should not be able to access the data in their car in in a customer's car so like you took it to an independent repair shop, they wouldn't be able to access this data. You'd have to go to the dealership to access this data. And they're citing these. Weird Safety and security issues like they're saying that this could cause increases in cyber stalking or in cyber attacks like you can. You know roll up next to somebody on the freeway and then turn their car off wirelessly using a hacking method and yes, you can do that but the actual. Chance of that happening is really really slim. Same thing with cyber stalking they say that you know if a third party can wirelessly access your your car's data, bake can find out where you live. They can find out where you work they can see. And they can you know follow you around and follow to your home? Some people have. A code to open the gate to their house or a code open their garage door stored in their cars. They don't have to carry a separate clicker for it and you know the the as the argument goes the hacker able to access that, and then they'd be able to break into your home and. This is why they're telling people not to vote for it and those arguments feel pretty flimsy. Yeah we saw that this summer when ads were released by a group called the Coalition for safe and secure data, and this is a coalition that's funded by automakers that you mentioned and they put out a series of ads. By the way those ads are now listed as private on youtube because they were criticized for the ads that showed a woman being stocked in a garage she approached her car or a man. Wirelessly entering someone's home presumably through the. Garage data. And and this is kind of fun that I was getting out before that these are the concerns that are not technically impossible. But. Many on the repair side of the argument saw these concerns as overblown Mike what's the parallel between what we're seeing with this argument over cars and consumer electronics appliances more broadly. Well, the argument that makes a little bit more sense than the. Cyberattack. Is the same argument that the big tech companies make when they argue against right to repair legislation. They say that we can't let you fix your gadget because you might hurt yourself or you'll make it vulnerable to failure vulnerable to hacks. To. A certain extent that is a little bit true like if you I just want to replace the battery in my iphone well I'll. I'll go to the Internet and I'll buy replacement battery I'll crack open my iphone I'll put the new battery in and then that battery is like some you know weird off brandon explodes and then I have an exploding iphone that's harmful to me it's also bad pr for the company that made the phone same thing with like even something simple like a replacement screen you buy replacement screen maybe that's not an official part in you didn't have it officially installed and it doesn't work exactly right your experiences in that gadget goes down and your customer satisfaction goes down it ends up. Leading to this sort of polluted. market devices, and for replacement parts and companies don't like to see that they like to have control over those things. Also, there is a big business in repairs. So repairing things and doing those repairs yourself, you can charge whatever you want because you're locking everybody else out and it sort of those two things that I think are the the sort of the most interesting parallels with the broader consumer technology industry and the most interesting arguments against rights repair.