U.S. government agencies support MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers’ petition in push for consumer access to vehicle data

The support came in the form of a submission to the U.S. Copyright Office, advocating for a new exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)'s anti-circumvention provisions.

Photo by Mark Phillips/Aftermarket Intel

MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers has received backing from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in their efforts to expand consumer access to vehicle operational, diagnostic and telematics data.

The support came in the form of a submission to the U.S. Copyright Office, advocating for a new exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)’s anti-circumvention provisions.

Currently, the DMCA’s provisions restrict the bypassing of copyright protection systems, which has limited consumers’ ability to view and share their vehicle’s telematics data with third-party repairers. MEMA’s proposed exemption aims to change this, allowing consumers to access crucial data that can assist in vehicle diagnosis and repair.

The DOJ and FTC have agreed with MEMA’s stance, stating that providing consumers access to their vehicle’s telematics data would pose a minimal threat to copyright holders. They also concurred that accessing this data would not increase cybersecurity risks.

“The DOJ and FTC’s comments speak to the strength of the arguments MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers, and its members, have been making in support of consumers’ right to repair their vehicles,” said Paul McCarthy, MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers’ President and CEO. “Their conclusion supports our point that consumers will benefit from having more repair options and that they can utilize these options in a cybersecure way. This goal should guide our policymaking efforts.” 

The agencies emphasized that given the low-risk nature of the proposed use of telematics data, it is unwarranted to limit consumers’ choices in where and how they repair their vehicles through data restrictions. This proposed exemption comes at a crucial time as the automotive repair industry undergoes significant changes, with vehicles becoming increasingly software-controlled.

Vehicle telematics data, which is automatically generated and wirelessly transmitted by a vehicle, includes information about the vehicle’s speed, fuel consumption, faults, and other operational data. Access to this data is vital for diagnosing and prognosticating vehicle repairs and services, which can ultimately enhance consumer safety and reduce repair costs and vehicle downtime.

The support from the DOJ and FTC marks a significant step forward in the efforts to grant consumers greater access to their vehicle’s data, which could lead to more informed choices and better outcomes in vehicle maintenance and repair.


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