Mar 232017

What happens when a vehicle manufacturer locks down their products’ software? John Deere’s customers are finding out as American farmers turn to Ukrainian software vendors for software to maintain their tractors.

John Deere’s behaviour is extreme as almost every component of a modern tractor has a software component which leaves farmers at the mercy of the company’s dealers and authorised mechanics.

So understandably the farmers are finding ways to hack their equipment to reduce downtime and costs, something permitted in the US after an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) was granted to vehicle software.

Vendor control over connected vehicles is a bigger problem for consumers than just maintaining the software, as the information collected from these devices becomes more valuable who controls that data becomes more important.

With global supply chains, increased regulatory requirements and demanding markets, the agricultural industries are probably leading the world in applying the Internet of Things and Big Data, so the challenges faced by farmers are things which will affect us all.

As everything from toasters to motor cars become connected and dependent upon code, the conflict between proprietary software, open markets and user rights is going to grow.

Consumers and the free market can only do so much to control the flows of data and who owns them. It’s hard to see how governments can’t become involved in how information is owned, traded and stored.

  One Response to “Hacking the connected vehicle”

  1. This sounds like a horrid, ruthless jungle. And governments need to step in, by the sounds of it – and the priority must always be the welfare of ordinary people, not fattening the profits of already fat corporations.

    Isn’t the connectedness of everything getting a bit over the top? Toasters need to be connected to the Internet? – that is just completely ridiculous! I wonder what ramifications could follow with self-driving vehicles once hackers manage to hack into the operating system of vehicles.

    Perhaps we need to start saying “no” to certain things, and not just say, “yes, yes, yes!” just because we *can* do something. Maybe we need to start using our brains again, instead of outsourcing them to machines and software (and hackers).

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