Own a vehicle? Here is why you should care about Right to Repair

Your vehicle has a lot in common with the phone in your pocket. 

Like your phone, your vehicle is tracking and storing data, a lot of data.  As you drive that vehicle around, it is collecting information about its performance. It is tracking your speed, how the vehicle is operating, tire pressure, RPMs, engine temperature, it gets pretty sophisticated.  

And like your phone, it is connected to the Internet. Currently about 60 per cent of vehicles on the road have embedded software systems that collect and wirelessly transmit data. By 2030, about 95 per cent of new vehicles sold globally will have this connectivity. 

But right now, not everyone can connect to that data. And that is a problem. 

This data can be used to run diagnostic tests when there is a problem and maintain your vehicle to keep the wheels rolling smoothly. 

To us, that is your data. It belongs to you. 

Here is the thing. Currently, not everyone can access your data. In many cases, only the vehicle’s automaker has control of it- and can choose who can access it such as an authorized dealership. Consequently, you might find that your vehicle must be taken there—and only there—to be maintained or repaired.  

We believe you should be able to choose who can access your data, and who can repair and maintain your car. 

When your choices are limited, you might end up waiting longer than necessary for a repair. If everyone must go back to the dealership, they are going to get busy. They might even be far from where you live. And you might need that vehicle back on the road immediately. 

When you cannot choose where to take your vehicle, you also cannot shop around for the most cost-effective service. Imagine if you could only find a shirt you need for work at one store. You would not have any opportunity to look at other shirts, and find the one that fits you best, and that fits your budget. 

Freedom to choose where to take your vehicle for maintenance or repair means you can find the service that suits you best. And who does not want a well-fitting shirt at the best price? 

We call the right to your data and being able to choose where you can take your vehicle the Right to Repair.  

And we know the 94 per cent of Canadians we polled want this right to take their vehicle where they want, and that 83 per cent of those Canadians think automakers should be required by law to share your vehicle’s data. 

Canada’s federal lawmakers are examining right now a bill that would be a first step in getting you ownership of your vehicle’s data, allowing you to choose where you can have it serviced and maintained. 

Bill C-244 amends Canada’s Copyright Act and would allow “the circumvention of a technological protection measure in a computer program if the circumvention is solely for the purpose of the diagnosis, maintenance or repair of the product in which the program is embedded.” 

 Though there is much more work to do, the principles behind this bill   dictate the start of an important conversation that will soon hopefully include the right to repair Canada’s vehicles – which is already legislated in other jurisdictions around the world.  

If this bill passes, we are on the road to getting you freedom to access your data, and freedom of choice.