Apps and Software

You can Now Temporary Hack Your Own Car without Risking to be Jailed

It is now possible to legally repair, hack and conduct security research using your car’s software and modify it without risking jail time for copyright violation. This is as agreed by the U.S Copyright Office after various organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), iFixit Repair Org. etc. who lobbied the government to change the rules. They are fighting for a permanent right to digitally fix all digital devices that you own especially your car.Before, it was a form of copyright infringement when you try to alter the software of any digital device in whichever way. This also entails fixing your car when it breaks. However, it is temporarily for just for a few years.

Car Ownership

Buying your own car does not give you a guarantee of doing whatever you want with it. This applies to all digital devices. The manufacturers of these digital devices hold the copyright on their software. Just like a DVD, you own your car physically but not digitally. Thus, you have limited access to the software that runs your car. With this, you should not alter the software even if you are trying to counter obsolescence or fix problems. You are prevented from investigating the software security which can cause a great impact to you as the owner of the car or even the driver. This can lead to various issues especially for older vehicles where you are left with no legal alternative other than purchasing a new one from the manufacturer.

Car Ownership

Filing with the U.S Copyright Office

The Copyright offices agreed to allow people modify the software that governs the car they own. They allow for lawful diagnosis and repair, aftermarket modification and personalization or any other improvement. It is important to note that it should be undertaken by the lawful owner of the vehicle. It is limited for three years only. The law allows for good faith testing in a controlled environment designed to avoid harm to public or even individuals. You are not supposed to interfere with the wireless communication and entertainment systems. This restricts the hackers with other intentions such as money gain.

Caveats from opposing team

In response to this legalization of hacking your own car, the opposition team which includes general motors, the association of global automakers among others claims that it is unnecessary since the owners have alternative options. They claim that you are not supposed to interfere with the entertainment system as one can hypothetically use it to commit copyright infringement. You are not allowed to screw around with any telematics or make a modification that breaks laws such as emission laws. They claim that the law is a violation of the First Amendment; due to infringement on security research as wellas fair use. They are in fear that some will hack their systems for personal gain other than good faith testing.

Opposing Team


  • It saves on the cost, time and effort required to seek permission for digital repair of your own car.
  • You can personalize,lawfully modify or make other improvements on your car.
  • You can hack, lawful diagnose and repair your car.
  • You are in a position to conduct security vulnerabilities and identify systems such as software rigged to systematically cheat emission testing.
  • The hacking process is controlled to prevent authorized access to other systems that one does own.
  • The rule allows you to identify security issues that can lead to great impact to the owner.


Hacking Process

  • After three years, you will need to ask for permission to repair your car again which is a tiring, time-consuming and expensive procedure; the law is just a temporary solution. Thus by the end of the year 2018, you will not be in a position to hack your own car.
  • This can lead to interference of systems that can be used to commit copyright infringements.
  • Other modifications can lead to the violation of laws such as emission laws.
  • Hackers can remotely shut off engines, disable brakes and track riders by breaking into cars’ software.

Read also: Risk-Based Security Planning – Do It Yourself


The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) now makes it possible to hack your own cars software though it is for a short duration without risking a jail term for violatingthe copyrights laws.With this law, you can also hack other devices other than cars such as your PC, phones, insulin pump etc.It is a short term permission that saves you from the hustle of seeking permission which is time-consuming, expensive and requires more effort. The good thing is that iFixit and are on their toes to try to make it a long-term solution; whereby you can legally be in a position to repair your own car throughout without any restrictions. They claim that it does not lead to the death of the auto industryor total anarchy which is the fear of the opposition teams. This does not, however, open seasons for hackers with an aim of gaining money illegally. Unauthorized access to the software that you don’t own, can lead to prosecution and you can serve a jail term for the violation of copyrights.

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