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Tesla Accused By Chinese Government of Spying – Musk Duly Denies Allegations

Tesla’s cameras are always in recording mode – that’s no secret. And until now, it wasn’t a problem, either. As of recent, the Chinese Government has raised speculation over the true intentions behind the company’s camera policy for their cars. It’s never been done before and, from where they’re standing, it doesn’t need to be done either.

Deposit Photos | Owning a Tesla is starting to seem like a liability to many people

Inside Tesla’s Camera Policy

According to Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk, the purpose behind installing cameras in his product is to facilitate the production of self-driving cars. It collects short clips of the car’s external surroundings to recognize street signs, lane lines, and traffic lights.

What must be remembered, however, is that Tesla is a tech company, and tech companies thrive on data. So, your car’s exterior surroundings aren’t the only things being tracked. Once you sync your phone to your car, addresses in your navigation system, contacts, and even your favorite songs are noted by the company.

Tesla also keeps track of your speed, mileage, and the place and time you charge your battery. While the company claims that the data collected isn’t paired with an identification number, meaning it cannot be traced back to your car, it is not impossible for it to be shared with others.

A Selective Ban on Tesla

Concerned about security breaches, the Chinese Government has banned Tesla from entering the premises of state-owned entities and military complexes. According to the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, the government fears the unlawful gain and divulsion of sensitive information.

Global Times | Tesla’s Shanghai gigafactory

The order explicitly states that Tesla owners are required to park their vehicles outside the specified areas. Since they have no control over what the vehicles do or don’t, and they don’t have concrete facts indicating that only necessary information is collected, the government remains skeptical and outlines that state information may be funneled back to the US by this means. Some of its agency members have also been restrained from driving their Tesla’s to their workplace.

How Will This Affect Tesla?

The Chinese market holds importance for Tesla. Since its construction was completed in 2019, the Model Y and Model 3 are being built in its Shanghai plant. The company had also acquired a tax break through the construction process.

In total, as of recent, China makes up one-fifth of its total sales revenue after the number doubled between 2019 and 2020. Evidently, China is a market that Tesla needs to keep happy, and if keeping away from state-owned entities is the way of doing that, logic suggests that Tesla will be complying.

BBC | Musk addressing Chinese business forum on spying allegations

Additionally, in a virtual Chinese forum, all claims of Tesla being used to spy on the Chinese Government were denied by Elon Musk, who strictly stated that if the cars were used anywhere in the world to spy, the company will be shut down.

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