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Automobile manufacturers like Toyota and Honda have given more than $25 million to a dishonest advertising campaign opposing Question 1, also known as Right to Repair. The ads, which have been running on Massachusetts televisions for months, inaccurately claim that, if Question 1 passes, car owners’ personal data would be exposed to cyberthieves.
Independent fact checking by the Boston Globe found those claims to be false. Former Boston police commissioner and cybersecurity expert Ed Davis called the advertisements, “a dishonest attack by big automakers who want a monopoly on car repairs.”
Car manufacturers want to stop Question 1 from passing because it lets independent mechanics compete with car dealerships. If Question 1 passes, automobile owners will be able to download electronic data about their vehicle and grant access to their mechanic. For newer automobiles, this data is essential for anyone trying to fix it. Right now, only mechanics who work at dealerships are able to access the data. This limits consumer choice and leads to higher prices for everyone.
In 2012, Right to Repair was on the ballot and passed overwhelmingly, winning 86% of the vote. This vote did not cover certain electronic data, which was not widely used earlier this decade but is now becoming ubiquitous. This ballot question will update the 2012 law to cover all the data a mechanic needs to repair an automobile. Right to Repair is supported by hundreds of local small businesses, mostly independent garages.
According to campaign finance reports, General Motors contributed $5.1 million to the anti-Right to Repair campaign, Toyota and Ford each gave $4.2 million, and Honda gave $2.8 million. Other car manufacturers such as BMW, Nissan, and Hyundai contributed the rest of the funding.
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