Hacking into your own car is now legal.
In a long-awaited ruling announced Tuesday morning, the US Copyright Office granted an exemption in copyright law that will permit gearheads and home mechanics to continue repairing and modifying their cars without running afoul of existing copyright law.
The chief of the federal agency charged with keeping motorists safe said Thursday there's no way his agency could conceivably evaluate millions of lines of software code for cyber-security deficiencies. At the same time, he's not sure he wants outside help.
Cars have become hacking targets, but documents show the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is struggling to address automotive cyber threats.
Independent researchers have uncovered major cyber-security weaknesses and emissions scams, but the government agencies that benefit most don't appreciate the help.
The three crises that rollicked the auto industry in recent months – a rising death toll related to the General Motors ignition-switch defect, the Jeep Cherokee hack and now the Volkswagen cheating scandal – all have one thing in common. Outsiders discovered the problems.
By allowing vehicle security researchers to hack cars and publish details of their exploits, federal officials said they feared they could encourage people with malicious intent to infiltrate vehicles.
"It gives manufacturers the power to control secondary markets by leveraging the copyright law, if it doesn't include enough of a safety valve." – Kit Walsh
The website Final Gear is one of the premiere fan sites for Top Gear on the Internet. For over a decade, it has been providing followers of the show and its spinoffs with BitTorrent links for the episodes and gave people a place to discuss all things related. However, the site was hobbled on July 17 by a Digital Millennium Copyright Act Takedown notice that forced it to remove all of its links to the series.