On November 3rd, voters in Massachusetts will choose whether two ballot initiatives pass. We support both initiatives and urge you to support them as well.
Question 1 – Right to Repair Vehicle Data Access Requirement
Question 1 would require that motor vehicle manufacturers create a standardized open data platform beginning with model year 2022 that would provide motor vehicle mechanical data to owners of such vehicles and whatever repair services they authorize to have access to such data.
The Massachusetts Attorney General would be directed to establish for prospective vehicle owners a motor vehicle telematics system notice that includes, but is not limited to, the following features:
- an explanation of motor vehicle telematics and its purposes,
- a description summarizing the mechanical data collected, stored and transmitted by a telematics system,
- the prospective owner’s ability to access the vehicle’s mechanical data through a mobile device, and
- an owner’s right to authorize an independent repair facility to access the vehicle’s mechanical data for vehicle diagnostics, repair and maintenance purposes.
Motor vehicle manufacturers are trying to get around the Right to Repair initiative voters passed in 2012 by moving access to mechanical data on your car motor vehicles from a port that requires a special computer to access to sending it over the internet to their walled garden. Increasingly, they use that walled garden and digital rights management (DRM) tools to limit our access to the data that our own vehicles generate. Manufacturers do this to force motor vehicle owners to use expensive dealers to service our cars.
Question 1 requires that manufacturers setup a standardized open data platform for such data, provide access to this data to the owner and any independent repair facility the owner authorizes. We support question 1 because:
- vehicle owners must have access to the mechanical data our vehicles generate. Our cars, our data, period!
- vehicle manufacturers must not be able to prevent independent repair facilities from accessing mechanical data our motor vehicles generate and so prevent them from diagnosing and fixing our motor vehicles. Limiting access to such data limits competition and raises prices on us all;
- standardized open data platforms will be more secure than proprietary closed data platforms as their openness allows security researchers, among others, to identify security issues and make them public;
Unlike what the No on 1 advertisements state, the data Question 1 would provide to you isn’t personal data. It is mechanical diagnostics data such as how well your vehicles’ engine is running and the current error code of your car. The No on 1 campaign is using fear of losing your privacy to random people to try to limit diagnostics data access to private repair shops so people will have to get serviced at dealerships more often. The truth is that the motor vehicle manufacturers are more likely to gather personal data on you from your vehicle such as where you drove it and sell it to the highest bidder than an independent repair facility will. By Question 1’s own text, independent repair facilities could not even get such data.
We must resist vehicle manufacturers gathering more and more information on our use of our own vehicles. By requiring manufacturers to adopt a standardized open data platform, Question 1 helps in that effort by potentially making their data collection more transparent to us. Without Question 1, they will hide the data they collect on us.
Ultimately, your vehicle is your property and no manufacturer should prevent you from diagnosing what ails it or authorizing an independent repair facility to do so on your behalf. Question 1 ensures we have that power and deserves your vote!
To find out how to help the Yes on 1 campaign, visit massrighttorepair.org.
Question 2 – Ranked Choice Voting
Question 2 would enact ranked-choice voting (RCV) for primary and general elections for state executive officials, state legislators, federal congressional and senate seats, and certain county offices beginning in 2022.
Instead of only voting for one candidate, voters can rank the candidates for an office from most preferred to least. If your first ranked candidate was eliminated because they did not have enough votes, your vote would go to your 2nd and, potentially, subsequent choices until only one candidate is the winner.
Ranked choice voting ensures that the candidate who wins an election has the support of a majority of voters. Gone would be elections such as the recent Democratic primary for the 4th Congressional District where the winner became the nominee with only 22% of the votes cast. By requiring candidates to win with majority support, RCV will encourage candidates to focus on a positive campaign to appeal to a broader number of voters, not simply their base.
RCV ends fears that third-party candidates, such as ours, will spoil the chances of major party candidates. As a result, more RCV will encourage more candidates to compete in our elections, giving voters more choices.
While ranked choice voting won’t fix all of the problem with our broken election system, it is a major change that will give voters more and better choices and will help third-parties such as ours.
While you are here … we are choosing the final dates for the party conference and want your input. We would appreciate hearing from you by this Friday, October 2nd.