Electric cars in China could be spying for the government, according to a new report.
More than any other country on Earth, China is embracing the cyberpunk dystopian future at breakneck speeds. The Chinese government already receives oodles of data from business and cell phones and has recently implemented a “social credit” system that even determines how good of a person you are. Get arrested or fail to pay your bills, and you could suddenly find you’re unable to book flights or buy a nice hotel room.
And now to add to that terrifying prospect, a new report from the Associated Press says that electric cars are feeding data to government monitoring centers.
Over 200 car brands, including all the big names like Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, and Mitsubishi, are sending up to 61 points of data to monitoring programs controlled by the Chinese government. The government says that the data is used to monitor traffic, improve public safety, and plan for future infrastructure development in addition to preventing fraud on government subsidy programs for electric vehicles.
"But critics say the information collected exceeds those goals and could be used to undermine foreign carmakers' competitive position, or for surveillance,” writes the Associated Press.
Currently, the data being collected doesn’t exceed the data already being gathered from your cell phone. However, for the government to access that data in America requires a warrant. In China, the government doesn’t need a court order to scoop up that data and do with it as they will. This means it’s a lot easier for them to find a specific person to monitor where they go in real time.
The Beijing Institute of Technology already collects data from over 1.1 million electric vehicles in the country, with the Shanghai Electric Vehicle Public Data Collecting, Monitoring, and Research Center has over 222,000 vehicles being tracked in real time.
Data collected could also be used to help government-aligned electric car makers to get a leg up on foreign competition, grabbing useful technological tidbits to make their cars better than anything made by Tesla or VW.