The recreational boating industry has growing concern with a growing trend: so-called ‘Right to Repair’ legislation that requires manufacturers to release software information to allow independent retailers to repair electronic products.

Just 29 days into the new decade, 27 US state legislatures have introduced such bills, which are opposed by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA) and a host of other manufacturers in a variety of industries.

According to the NMMA, these measures would put boat manufacturers at risk by granting consumers access to embedded software code which could result in unsafe operation and improper emissions. The trade group believes providing access to computer code would risk the loss of proprietary, innovative technology.

Two examples getting active attention from the marine industry are from the states of Maine and Virginia.

NMMA submitted written testimony to a Maine legislative committee opposing LD1977, requiring manufacturers to make all embedded code available for independent repair retailers and prohibit manufacturers from limiting access to diagnostic equipment and tools.

Further down the Eastern seaboard, in Virginia, HB68 would prohibit manufacturers from adding in codes to make their engine or equipment tamper-proof. This proposal is in direct conflict with mandates in the Clean Air Act setting emissions levels and making it illegal to tamper with engine emissions.

NMMA, MRAA, the Truck & Engine Manufacturers Association (TEMA) and Volvo Penta will submit testimony to the Virginia House Communications Technology and Innovation’s Sub-Committee on Technology and Innovation when the bill is assigned a hearing date.

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