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U.S. lawmaker forming congressional caucus on vehicle data access

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Earl Carter is forming a congressional caucus on vehicle data access that could lead to federal legislation.

The Georgia Republican has sent a letter to colleagues in the House and Senate, inviting them to join the caucus and address policy issues related to access to and control of data generated by vehicles.

Carter expects the group to hold its first meeting this fall and plans to move forward with preparing draft legislation on vehicle data access in the coming months, according to the letter.

“I know many of us have heard from a wide variety of stakeholders — consumers, insurers, fleets, independent repair shops and automotive recyclers, telematics and technology companies, vehicle manufacturers, auto dealers, agriculture groups, and others — on the subject of vehicle data access,” Carter said in the letter.

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Through the caucus, he hopes to “work collaboratively and on a bipartisan basis to weigh the positions of these stakeholders and come up with draft vehicle data access legislation that will be supported through regular order.”

The American Alliance for Vehicle Owners’ Rights applauded Carter’s efforts, adding that “congressional attention on protecting vehicle owners’ right to access vehicle-generated data is overdue.”

The group’s members include consumer advocates, fleet owners, auto repairers, insurers and telematics providers.

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“As motor vehicles become more technologically complex and reliant on vehicle-generated data to operate, it is essential that vehicle owners have the ability to access and control their vehicle’s data,” Sandy Blalock, executive director of the Automotive Recyclers Association, said in a statement. “By having the ability to access and control vehicle-generated data, vehicle owners will maintain their existing right to choose how to repair their vehicles.”

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents most major U.S. automakers as well as some suppliers and tech companies, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2014, the auto industry committed to privacy principles aimed at protecting personal information collected through in-vehicle technologies.

Automakers represented by the alliance have been battling with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey over a voter-approved initiative that revised the state’s right to repair law by requiring vehicle owners and independent repair facilities be given expanded access to mechanical data related to vehicle maintenance and repair.

The revised law — referred to as the Data Access Law in the lawsuit — requires makers of vehicles sold in Massachusetts to equip vehicles that use telematics systems with a standardized, open-access data platform beginning with the 2022 model year. It also gives vehicle owners and independent repair shops access to real-time information from the telematics, such as crash notifications, remote diagnostics and navigation.

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The Alliance for Automotive Innovation has argued the state’s amended law conflicts with several federal laws, poses cybersecurity and vehicle safety risks and sets an impossible timeline for compliance.

Since January, the judge has postponed a decision on the nearly two-year-old court case multiple times.

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