Hacking Telsa

telsaTelsa, an electric car company, is being touted as the Apple of the auto industry, meaning its innovating and selling users experiences they never knew they wanted or needed (Forbes). Just as iPhone users have hacked their way into Apple’s devices for years, Business Insider is reporting that Telsa’s touch-screen is possible one step away from being been hacked as well!

“It’s essentially one big, car-mounted computer, and according to Drag Times, one Model S owner has found a way of patching into that computer via a disguised ethernet port hidden in the dashboard. By hooking up an ethernet cable between the car and a laptop computer, the owner found a backdoor into the car’s central screen–even managing to run a Firefox web browser on the car’s touchscreen.”

Back in 2010 a judge overruled Apple’s quest to make jailbreaking void its warranties (Wired). While the price of an iPad/iPhone is greatly less than that Telsa’s cheapest model (~$40k), it will be interesting to see if this precedent is used to enable owners of Telsa’s vehicles to do the same, without voiding the car’s warranty.

Here are 2 key statements from recent rulings and why Telsa may not like the association with Apple, after all:

Per the copyright office, “while a copyright owner might try to restrict the programs that can be run on a particular operating system, copyright law is not the vehicle for imposition of such restrictions.”

And from the federal appeals court, “The owner’s technological measure must protect the copyrighted material against an infringement of a right that the Copyright Act protects, not from mere use or viewing,” (.pdf) the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a case concerning a software licensing flap between MGE UPS Systems and GE Consumer and Industrial.