China Knows Where Electric Car Drivers Are at All Times, Report Says
China collects position and dozens of other types of data from electric vehicles without the knowledge of the drivers, according to the Associated Press.
Stakes get higher as cars are connected to the Internet and potentially obtain even more personal information.
The report states that more than 200 electric vehicle manufacturers collect and pass on the data to monitoring sites as required by laws there. The companies doing so reportedly include Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Tesla, among others.
Fortune has reached out to Ford, Daimler, GM, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Tesla and will update with responses as they become available.
Chinese officials told AP that the data is used to prevent fraud in subsidy programs, improve public safety, and make infrastructure plans. Other major electric vehicle markets, including the U.S., Japan, and countries across Europe, don’t collect such data.
China has never been shy about controlling people within its borders. Google has worked on a censored search engine specifically for the country. Everyone gets graded on social behavior, and the results can already keep you from rail or air travel.
The story also suggests that, even if not passing all this data on to governments, electric vehicle manufacturers are still collecting it. That raises other types of privacy concerns that have more usually been associated with tech companies like Facebook.
Update, Nov. 29, 2018, 9:45 a.m.: A Daimler spokesperson sent the following statement:
We adhere to the laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate. There is no direct access to vehicle data by the Authorities. Only the legally required data are transmitted by the OEMs. For the use of data, the customer has to be comprehensively informed on how the recorded data is used.
Update, Nov. 29, 2018, 4:15 p.m.: A GM spokesperson sent the following statement:
GM operates in all markets in compliance with local laws and regulations. In China, the Next-Energy Vehicles (NEVs) produced and sold by our joint ventures comply with industry regulations and standards. GM collects vehicle and battery data from the NEV as is required by law to monitor the safety status of the vehicle. At time of NEV purchase, customer signs a contract or an acknowledgement & consent to the collection and use of the data accordingly.
Update, Nov. 30, 2018, 7:30 a.m.: Mitsubishi Motors sent a statement that said the company does not sell electric vehicles in China and is unaware of the country’s monitoring system.