Senators Markey and Blumenthal Reintroduce Legislation to Protect Against Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Risks in Vehicles

Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), both members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, reintroduced the Security and Privacy in Your Car (SPY Car) Act last week. The bill aims to protect drivers from cybersecurity and data privacy risks in increasingly computerized motor vehicles. While the prospect for passage in this Congress is highly unlikely, the bill addresses two of the most critical issue areas hindering the enactment of any meaningful autonomous vehicle legislation.

SPY Car would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to establish federal cybersecurity standards protecting against unauthorized access to electronic controls, critical software systems, or driving data within three years of enactment. The bill calls for the creation and implementation of a “cyber dashboard” that would inform consumers through an “easy to understand, standardized graphic” about the extent to which the vehicle is protected. The bill also gives the owner or lessee the right to opt out of the collection and retention of driving data without losing access to navigational tools or other capabilities.

SPY Car was first introduced by the same two senators in 2015, and again in the following Congress in 2017. The bill picked up an additional cosponsor in Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) in 2017, but still failed to garner much support and progress through committee. SPY Car will likely stall again in the Republican-chaired Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee this Congress and will encounter pushback from industry especially on data collection. Nevertheless, the bill underscores the importance of cybersecurity and data privacy and lays out the position of two senior members on the committee with jurisdiction over autonomous vehicles.

The full text of the Security and Privacy in Your Car (SPY Car) Act can be found here.