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It could take years for lawmakers to devise a policy to protect motorists from cyberthreats, but consumer demand could speed the process to avoid potentially deadly car hackings, Sen. Ed Markey told CNBC on Tuesday.
"I think the public is going to demand it the same way they did with seat belts and air bags and fuel economy standards," the Massachusetts Democrat told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" a day after he released a report on automotive cybersecurity.
"It's going to take some time" to draw up standards for cybersecurity in vehicles, he said. Eventually, he would want standardized rules enforced by federal transportation agencies and trade regulators.
"I think we need a uniform requirement and every company would have to meet it," Markey said.
Markey would want standards that, for instance, added stickers to a car that showed its cyberdefense capacity just like those that show air bag features. Vehicle owners could get software upgrades to face new threats, and companies could issue recalls if a technology has been shown to harm consumers, he said.
The report released Monday detailed "gaps" in automobile privacy and security based on the responses of 16 automakers. The report cited studies that showed hackers' ability to access vital car functions like brakes or speedometers or gather driving locations from vehicle computers.
It said that security to prevent remote access was "inconsistent and haphazard" and noted that most automakers were "unaware of or unable to report on" past hackings. Markey on Tuesday argued that companies should build safeguards in to vehicles as they upgrade technological features.