Senators want more answers from automakers about cybersecurity

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Friday, September 18, 2015

Following up on the bill they introduced two months ago, Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sent 18 automakers more queries for information on the companies’ protections against hackers.

Dating back to a 2013 investigation initiated by Markey, the two senators introduced the Security and Privacy in Your Car Act – or SPY Car Act – in late-July. The bill addresses security issues with software in vehicles. The latest letter sent to manufacturers requests information about any changes to “vehicle fleet or characteristics, policies, practices and experiences that may have occurred” since Markey has last heard from them.

Letters were sent to the following automakers:

  • Aston Martin
  • BMW North America
  • Fiat Chrysler
  • Ford Motor Company
  • General Motors
  • American Honda Motor Co.
  • Hyundai Motors North America
  • Jaguar Land Rover North America
  • Lamborghini
  • Mazda North America
  • Mercedes Benz USA
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan North America
  • Porsche
  • Subaru Motors America
  • Tesla
  • Toyota North America
  • Volkswagen Group of America (with Audi)
  • Volvo

In a letter to Fiat Chrysler, the senators explained that the company’s response to their first letter “proved invaluable.” Fiat Chrysler was asked to provide a response no later than Oct. 16. The letter addresses software issues with “cars and light trucks” but makes no mention of medium- or heavy-duty vehicles. Attempts to contact the senators’ offices to address the issue of larger vehicles were not immediately returned.

Markey first sent out letters to automakers in December 2013. Last year, Markey released the report “Tracking and Hacking: Security and Privacy Gaps Put American Drivers at Risk.” Since then, hackers successfully broke into the software of a Jeep Cherokee, revealing the vulnerabilities and dangers of computer systems in vehicles. Just days after the SPY Car Act was introduced, Chrysler recalled more than 1 million vehicles because of software vulnerability.

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