Automakers Supply Chinese Government With Real-Time Info Of Their Vehicles

A comprehensive report from The Associated Press has revealed that hundreds of different vehicles sold in China transmit position information, among other things, to the Chinese government.

In total, more than 200 manufacturers, including the likes of Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Ford, Daimler, Nissan, and Mitsubishi transmit dozens of data points to monitoring centers owned by the government, including The Shanghai Electric Vehicle Public Data Collecting, Monitoring and Research Center and the National Big Data Alliance of New Energy Vehicles.

The Associated Press reports that the data-collection systems have been in place since the beginning of 2017. Chinese officials claim that the data is collected to improve public safety while facilitating industrial development and infrastructure planning, as well as preventing fraud in subsidy programs. Car manufacturers claim that they are simply complying with local laws by providing the data.

What is particularly worrying about the data-collection are the details the Chinese government receives. In fact, staff at monitoring centers have a real-time map of all new energy vehicles across the country and, at the press of a button, can select an individual vehicle and receive information like the make and model, mileage and even the vehicle’s battery charge.

The information from these new energy vehicles is initially sent back to the manufacturer. The companies then send at least 61 data points to local monitoring facilities across China.

According to staff from The Shanghai Electric Vehicle Public Data Collecting, Monitoring and Research Center, information is not shared with police, prosecutors or courts. However, the information can be shared with government security agencies if a formal request is made.

The Verge reached out to a number of car manufacturers supplying vehicle information to the Chinese government, including Daimler and Volkswagen. Both companies say that customers are informed of the data-sharing. However, The Associated Press claims that the data-sharing generally happens without the owners’ knowledge.

Critics of China’s required data-sharing say that the information can be used for surveillance and to undermine the competitive position of foreign carmakers in the country. No other governments are believed to be gathering data from new-age hybrid and electric vehicles.

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  • PhilMcGraw

    “Car manufacturers claim that they are simply complying with local laws by providing the data.”

    Yeah because why would a car company have any kind of moral compass or values beyond doing whatever makes them the most money?

  • RobSez

    Auto makers have been sharing data with the U.S. DOE (and probably other government agencies) since at least 2010. It is an ‘Opt-In’ program for EV drivers that we can opt-out of at any time. I do it because I’m hoping it helps us get to better EVs and better infrastructure. I know the NSA is tracking all of our phones without our permission anyway, so no point in not participating in EV data collection.

    • Nick099

      Well I guess that makes it all better then.

      Never ceases to amaze how some people rationalize giving their liberties away.

      • RobSez

        You can’t give away something that was taken from you without permission long ago. I’m an IT guy with over 30 years experience. Twenty years of that experience is in information security. I whatever liberty you believe in is an illusion.

    • Knotmyrealname

      I’m unsure on your position. You’re OK with this because you believe it’s the right thing to do, or, because it’s already in play, you shrug your shoulders and move on to the next release of your freedom? Like Nick099 says it’s amazing how people rationalize giving away their liberties.
      Personally, I’m shocked at what is allowed to happen without our say-so. I’m more shocked at the complacency of so many people.

      • RobSez

        I am never okay with any government or other entity collecting data for a government about it’s citizens without their explicit permission. The reality is every government does just that. On it’s own, and/or in conjunction with privately held entities. I work very hard to control the degree of reach our government has into my and my family’s personal information. However, I’m a realist who understands stopping all the possible leaks is impossible. So, I’m okay with sharing limited information I control voluntarily under agreed to principles in order to get a better future. Knowing full well that information is probably being shared with others without my permission. It beats living in a cave and collecting lint.

  • Dude

    It’s a good thing I don’t live in China then

  • alexxx

    Well there is a solution…. Don’t sell cars in China… Right?!

  • KareKakk

    The Khashoggis of the World enters interesting times.

  • sidewaysspin

    A nightmare come true for the chinese people, their government.

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