US OKs state auto-repair law after raising hacking concerns

US auto safety regulators said Tuesday automakers can comply with a Massachusetts law requiring them to share vehicle data with independent repair shops, reversing course after previously objecting that it could make vehicles vulnerable to hacking.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said automakers could safely share diagnostic data with independent shops using short-range wireless technology, but warned that using long-range wireless signals could potentially let hackers send dangerous commands to moving vehicles.

Massachusetts voters in 2020 approved a ballot initiative that gives independent repair shops access to diagnostic data that newer cars can send directly to dealers and manufacturers, in order to allow consumers to seek repairs outside dealerships.

NHTSA in June told 22 major automakers in June not to comply with the open-access law because it could potentially allow for manipulation of steering, braking and other critical safety functions and allow hackers to “remotely command vehicles to operate dangerously.”