At the end of an interview with the founder of Quantiv Risk, an InsurTech that helps carriers make sense of performance data from vehicles with advanced driver assistance systems, Carrier Management posed a big picture question:

Who owns the data—the consumer or the car maker?

Mike Nelson, who has decades of legal experience in insurance and regulatory matters, and whose technology startup is specifically engaged in interpreting vehicle performance data (VPD) from Teslas, said that while the question persists for all types of car data, “it’s almost not the right way to think about it.”

Read the related articles, “Lawyer-Turned InsurTech Founder Looks Into Cloud to Settle Tesla Auto Claims” and “A Litigator’s View From the Driver’s Seat of a Tesla” to learn more about Quantiv Risk and Nelson’s journey to start the company.

“Ownership is just one facet,” he said. “Other facets are, ‘Who has access to it? How much of it can be accessed? Can it be repurposed? Can it be passed on to anybody else? How is it used?”

Sharing a link to a recent article about “Right to Repair” legislation recently introduced in Congress, he explained that U.S. lawmakers are responding to fights about data access—independent repair shops want access to the data so they can fix cars, while car manufacturers don’t want to give up the data.

Fourteen states already have “Right to Repair” laws, he said, explaining that the issues are more settled for EDR data, accident data buried on event data recorders in all types of cars. The EDR device in the car has been around for 20 years. “Case law has developed and statutes have been created that say that EDR data is owned by the consumer,” he said.

“I don’t see the difference between VPD and EDR data,” he added, offering his own opinion. “Think about some judge in a Tesla case 10 years from now. ‘Wait a minute, there’s a homicide and this driver wants the data on the car to defend himself, and you’re telling him he can’t have it because you own it? That’s baloney,'” he said, imagining the judge’s reaction to the facts at hand.

“This will all work out the same way,” Nelson said.

Currently, in the situations where consumers have been granted access to the VPD, Nelson confirmed that if that consumer is an insurance policyholder who agrees to share it with an insurer, then the insurer can also have access. “But there’s a lot of voices saying the insurance industry should have it too without having to go through the customer. That’s another fight.”

In this vein, the National Transportation Safety Board, in reports emanating from its investigation of a California accident involving a Tesla (the Mountain View accident), speaks to the Herculean task of accessing VPD (referred to as vehicle car logs in NTSB reports) and takes the position that people charged with investigating accidents should have access to it. (See, for example, “Comments to NHTSA Framework for ADS Safety,” calling for the standardization of AV data collection and recommending that the data be readily available to NTSB investigators and NHTSA regulators at a minimum.)

Related article: “Lawyer-Turned InsurTech Founder Looks Into Cloud to Settle Tesla Auto Claims