BETHESDA, Md.—Cybersecurity provisions in a discussion draft bill designed to enhance vehicle safety and security could have serious anticompetitive effects, the Auto Care Association has warned a House subcommittee.
The ACA sent a letter Oct. 19 to Reps. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., the chairman and ranking minority member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing & Trade.
“The proliferation of software, firmware and hardware into the operating functionality of motor vehicles means mechanical functions of vehicles are being partially performed by electronic systems,” said Aaron Lowe, ACA senior vice president, regulatory and government affairs.
“These systems are functionally integrated with and, as a practical matter, inseparable from physical engine parts,” Lowe wrote in the letter.
Yet Section 302 of the draft bill, Lowe said, makes it “unlawful for any person to access, without authorization, an electronic control unit (ECU) or critical system on a motor vehicle, or other system containing driving data for such motor vehicle.”
This provision, Lowe said, could prove disastrous for independent auto repairers.
“The ECU is the brain of a vehicle, and therefore for a service facility to repair a vehicle system, they will need access to that ECU for both the diagnosis and repair,” he wrote.
“The language in the draft is extremely vague, and could be interpreted to provide the car company with full control over who has access to key vehicles systems,” he wrote. “Such action could have severe anticompetitive impacts on our industry and car owners who depend on independent repair shops for about 80 percent of post-warranty repairs.”
The subcommittee held a hearing on the discussion draft Oct. 21. ACA officials did not testify in person, but representatives of other associations and government agencies did.
These included the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, the National Automotive Dealers Association, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Automotive Recyclers Association.