Blog del CCI

martes, 13 de febrero de 2018

Right to repair (also the digital)

Like many things that revolve around technology, the issue we echo today arises from a movement in the US that is none other than being able to repair machinery that incorporates hardware and software for its operation, by the owner or any workshop. 

This seems more or less reasonable and that's how it works, for example, in the automotive sector, in the issue of information technology is not so. Thus, those with diagnostic and repair tools are the companies owning this technology, or some to which they have granted that power.

This right to repair what it mean1 for manufacturers, is the duty to sell spare parts and diagnostic tools to any workshop or individual that so demands. 

And where did it start? 

Few American territories deserve more to be considered the heart of the country  -to be in the depths of deep America-  than the State of Nebraska. A quick glance at the map of continental US (with permission from Alaska) will clear any doubt about it.

While in other latitudes -for example, the European ones- what is debated, or has recently been debated, are rights, born at the mercy of "digital", as the "right to be forgotten", in rural Nebraska the debate, also propitiated as an effect of "digital", revolves around the "right to repair", ... to repair tractors.

Digitization ravages. Few activities, if any, escape their influence and those related to agricultural and livestock production are no exception. Modern tractors are, in fact, computers on big wheels. The manufacturers have "refilled" them with embedded software which, among other things, has allowed them to launch a lucrative business model around maintenance and repairs.

However, this "novelty" clashes directly with the interests of farmers, who are not willing to go through the hoop of the manufacturers from the economic point of view (the costs of software and other supplements are exorbitant, as well as the tariffs of the authorized workshops), nor from the agility that requires to solve a breakdown when the tractor stops in the middle of the country 40 miles away from the nearest workshop.

While Nebraska farmers await the approval, or not, of the state law "LB 67 on the right to repair", Polish and Ukrainian hackers are providing them with the spare parts -basically, pirated and sabotaged/manipulated software- that their tractors need. 

But not only Nebraska farmers are interested in the law, they have joined the states of Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, Kansas and Wyoming. 

And, of course, not only affects tractors and farmers, but any device that includes software or hardware for its operation, which is almost everything. 


Miguel García-Menéndez
CCI, Industrial Cybersecurity Center 

Maria Jose de la Calle
Colaboradora CCI
CCI, Industrial Cybersecurity Center 

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