Software or ECU manipulation on a car may soon become a crime as some car companies are reportedly going to ban car owners on modifying their cars by using the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). If approved, it will bar people on tinkering with the computers and software that are running on an automobile.
DMCA in itself is a United States Law that gives electronic data, softwares and hardwares copyright protection in which they cannot be copied or tampered with unless given permission. With most cars today practically running on computers and the like, automakers stated that the devices fitted on automobiles falls under the protection of DMCA, allowing them to restrict on what an owner can modify on their car.
Members of the U.S. Auto Alliance (BMW, Fiat-Chrysler, Ford, GM, Jaguar-Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of America and Volvo North America) recently released a joint statement regarding the issue.
"Automobiles are inherently mobile, and increasingly they contain equipment that would commonly be considered computing devices... Many of the ECUs embodied in today’s motor vehicles are carefully calibrated to satisfy federal or state regulatory requirements with respect to emissions control, fuel economy, or vehicle safety. Allowing vehicle owners to add and remove programs at whim is highly likely to take vehicles out of compliance with these requirements, rendering the operation or re-sale of the vehicle legally problematic. The decision to employ access controls to hinder unauthorized “tinkering” with these vital computer programs is necessary in order to protect the safety and security of drivers and passengers and to reduce the level of non-compliance with regulatory standards. We urge the Copyright Office to give full consideration to the impacts on critical national energy and environmental goals, as well as motor vehicle safety, in its decision on this proposed exemption. Since the record on this proposal contains no evidence regarding its applicability to or impact on motor vehicles, cars and trucks should be specifically excluded from any exemption that is recommended in this area."