Auto industry debates legislation to outlaw car hacking at congressional hearing

Automotive industry execs voiced their opinions on recently proposed legislation to address privacy and security concerns in connected automobiles
Automotive industry execs voiced their opinions on recently proposed legislation to address privacy and security concerns in connected automobiles

Automotive industry professionals debated proposed legislation to address privacy and security in connected automobiles before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing on Wednesday.

Maneesha Mithal, Associate Director of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), told the committee that provisions in the legislation to make it illegal to hack cars would be counter-intuitive as researchers have notified manufacturers of crucial vulnerabilities in the past.

“By prohibiting such access even for research purposes, this provision would likely disincentivize such research, to the detriment of consumers' privacy, security, and safety,” Mithal said in an opening statement.

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) on the other hand not only supported the initiative to outlaw car hacking but also urged the committee to include legislation to prevent hacking into dealership systems and other systems within the “entire vehicle ecosystem.”

“We urge the Subcommittee to recognize that to fully protect consumers and vehicle data, dealer systems need to be afforded the same hacking protections as the vehicles themselves,” said Peter K. Welch, president of the NADA, said in an opening statement.

In addition, the committee discussed the formation of an Automotive Cybersecurity Advisory council to develop cybersecurity best practices for vehicle manufacturers among other things.

The hearing also included testimony from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Global Automakers, Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, Automotive Recyclers Association, and the Center for American Progress.

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