China’s Electric Cars Are Government Spies
Coverage on the dramatic extent of China’s surveillance capabilities continues to grow and expand as details emerge on specific sources and tactics. Through a recent factory visit in China, Quartz learned that electric carmakers in the country are obligated to provide data recorded in the cars to the U.S. government. Manufacturers around the world are collecting data for internal use, using it to support their performance improvements. The Chinese government has tapped into this data source and currently have access to 61 data points, including the real-time location, battery performance, and charging times for around 1.4 million electric cars. This includes data from Volkswagen, Nissan, and Tesla. The Chinese government claims the data is used for “analytics to improve public safety, facilitate industrial development and infrastructure planning, and to prevent fraud in subsidy programs.” No other country with electric cars, however, collects such data in this way. As fears and realities of Chinese surveillance policies through its products increase (e.g. Huawei hardware), this could also extend to industries like the automotive industry, damaging Chinese prospects for international growth.