2018/09/19: Just after the California bill was introduced, the farm equipment manufacturers started circulating a flyer titled “Manufacturers and Dealers Support Commonsense Repair Solutions.” In that document, they promised to provide manuals, guides, and other information by model year 2021. But the flyer insisted upon a distinction between a right to repair a vehicle and a right to modify software, a distinction that gets murky when software controls all of a tractor’s operations.
As Jason Koebler of Motherboard reported, that flyer is strikingly similar—in some cases, identical word-for-word—to the agreement the Farm Bureau just brokered. The flyer and the agreement list the same four restrictions:
No resetting immobilizer systems.
No reprogramming electronic control units or engine control modules.
No changing equipment or engine settings that might negatively affect emissions or safety.
No downloading or accessing the source code of any proprietary embedded software.
These restrictions are enormous. If car mechanics couldn’t reprogram car computers, a good portion of modern repairs just wouldn’t be possible.