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People generally like to have a local mechanic work on their cars. Local repair shops are usually less expensive and easier to get to than the service centers at car dealerships. But cars today sport hundreds of computer chips linked together in networks. This makes them as much rolling data centers as vehicles. These mini mobile data centers are connected wirelessly to the car manufacturers’ own data centers.

One consequence is that carmakers treat the data these onboard computers generate as proprietary information, which complicates access to their inner workings for independent repair shops − and car owners. Legal scholars Leah Chan Grinvald and Ofer Tur-Sinai explain the tangle of laws, agreements and conflicting interests at the heart of the right-to-repair issue.

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Eric Smalley

Science + Technology Editor

Independent repair shops are fighting for access to vehicles’ increasingly sophisticated data. Matthew P/Flickr

The battle over right to repair is a fight over your car’s data

Leah Chan Grinvald, University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Ofer Tur-Sinai, Ono Academic College

Today’s cars include hundreds of computer chips, and carmakers say the data produced by those chips is proprietary – and a security risk. This means you don’t own the data your car generates.

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