U.S. authorities have given security researchers the green light to turn car software inside out hunting for possible flaws. While carrying out repairs will now be legal, but users and expert analysts will still breach copyright if they extract or sell the code would.
- Car owners and expert analysts are now allowed to tinker with car software
- The Library of Congress ruled in favor of EFF’s proposal
- Major car manufacturers strongly opposed the new rules
- In spite of opposition, the new rules will be enforced a year from now
Vehicle manufacturers evidently opposed the move, arguing that repair garages are more than equipped to fix any issues that might occur. The ruling was mainly driven by the claims the Volkswagen emissions scandal could have been prevented if users had the right to tinker with the software.
In spite of the opposition coming from major manufacturers such as General Motors (GM) and Deere, the Library of Congress, which presides over the U.S. Copyright Office, sided with fair use advocates who claimed that car ownership should come with the right to modify one’s vehicle, including the built-in software.
According to a GM representative, the new rules are bound to weaken and slow down safety innovation. The statement said that “sensitive vehicle data could be easily manipulated, altered, or distributed – undetected – if these changes are implemented.
This is not the first time someone requested the rules be changed, but it’s also not the first time Deere has opposed it. Ken Golden, spokesman for Deere, added the company does not wish to change its stance on the matter, and noted that copyright will still protect some systems that transmit data from the car to Deere.
Seeing as computer programs are literally everywhere nowadays – in home appliances, cars, and medical devices just to name a few – security researchers felt entitled to push for copyright liability protection. One of the sternest advocates, Kit Walsh, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), said he was pleased that examining car software does not come with legal threats anymore.
Following the deceit uncovered about Volkswagen’s emissions, the EFF argued car manufacturers’ software should not be protected from the public’s scrutiny. Walsh wrote a blog post saying the law shouldn’t be allowed to punish the ones who want to understand how trustworthy is the device that holds their privacy, safety, or even health.
The new ruling also faced opposition from some governmental agencies, while the Environmental Protection Agency opposed them unequivocally. Even so, the Library of Congress has already said its final rule, which will only be enforced a year from now, after the EPA and other agencies will have time to prepare.
Image Source: Ars Technica