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From Products Liability Law Daily, October 15, 2014

NHTSA seeks information from private entities interested in setting up V2V communications systems

By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.

Information relating to the operating components of a system that will support vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) operations is being sought by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency will not be establishing regulations for this system; instead, the agency anticipates that private entities will create, fund, and manage the security and communications components of a V2V system. Thus, NHTSA is looking for feedback from parties potentially interested in establishing and operating a V2V Security Credential Management System (SCMS). Responses to the Request for Information (RFI) are due by 11:59 p.m. on December 15, 2014 (NHTSA Notice, 79 FR 61927, October 15, 2014).

Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. On August 18, 2014, NHTSA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) for V2V communications and released an extensive research report on the technology as the formal start to the regulatory process for V2V communications. NHTSA’s purpose in initiating the V2V rulemaking was to create a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS No. 150) that would require V2V communication capability for new light vehicles (passenger cars and light truck vehicles (LTVs)) and would create minimum performance requirements for V2V devices and messages. The agency believed that requiring V2V communication capability in new light vehicles would facilitate the development and introduction of a number of advanced vehicle safety applications, such as crash warning V2V applications (see Products Liability Law Daily’s August 18 analysis).

SCMS Request for Information. According to the agency, in order for a V2V system to function safely, there must be trusted communication between V2V devices and message content that is protected from outside interference. Thus, a V2V system must include a security infrastructure to secure each message along with a communications network to convey security and related information from vehicles to the entities providing the SCMS. Although the ANPR contained a number of SCMS and security-related questions on which the agency was seeking comments, the agency believed that response to this RFI will be helpful to the agency on the specific issue of the commenters’ potential interest in operating an SCMS. Specifically, the responses will help NHTSA: (1) become aware of private entities that may have an interest in exploring the possibility of developing and/or operating components of a V2V Security Credential Management System (SCMS); (2) receive responses to the questions posed about the establishment of an SCMS provided in the last section of this RFI; and (3) obtain feedback, expressions of interest, and comments from all interested public, private, and academic entities on any aspect of the SCMS.

Cooperative agreements. The RFI sets out the technical and organizational aspects of the current V2V security design, of which the SCMS is an integral part, and clarifies that the primary managerial component of the SCMS—the SCMS Manager—would be responsible for managing all other component entities—Certificate Management Entities, or CMEs. NHTSA noted that there would be a collaborative relationship between the agency and the private entity or entities that constitute and operate the SCMS supporting V2V communications. This relationship would be documented in an agreement establishing minimum requirements in the following areas: (1) service period; (2) organization; (3) operation; (4) governance; (5) system access; (6) fees; (7) privacy; (8) security; (9) continuity of operation; (10) liability/insurance; and (11) cooperation.

Questions posed. The agency is seeking feedback on a number of specific questions, including:

  • What model is most appropriate and what are the risks, if any, associated with a private “self-governance” approach and how would the commenter mitigate them?

  • What is the commenter’s interest in helping to establish an SCMS? Which SCMS functions are you most interested in performing, either on the commenter’s own or as part of a larger consortium? What information or other resources does the commenter need to initiate planning, development, and implementation of the identified SCMS functions? The agency would also appreciate respondents providing potential lead times associated with standing up an SCMS and making it fully operational to support a national implementation of V2V technology, because lead time will help the agency understand when V2V technology could potentially be rolled out most successfully.

  • In relation to the SCMS Manager function, will the establishment of either a binding or non-binding “governance board” provide the appropriate level of stakeholder guidance and direction to facilitate a viable and self-sustaining business entity? If not, why not, and what additional or other type of governance or oversight might be needed?

  • In order for the SCMS to function, what standards and policies applicable to individual CMEs will need to be developed and implemented? Who do you envision will establish the various standards, policies, procedures, auditing processes, and other related industry-wide processes?

  • Identify any additional components that the governing agreement should cover and explain importance. If the SCMS established a “governance board,” how should the board be constituted? Should the board's decisions be binding on the SCMS?

NHTSA also asked respondents to provide projections of initial capital investment for SCMS functions overall and components they may potentially be interested in “standing up” and supporting. Finally, the agency requested feedback on how respondents envisioned SCMS financial sustainability and its relation to any data collection or fees, if any, that would be permitted under the agreement with the Department of Transportation.

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