Own an Electric Vehicle, You could be in Surveillance Mode in China

Over 200 car makers are sending real-time location data and and dozens of other information in China to surveillance centres.


New information published by the Associated Press news agency revealed more details of China’s complex government surveillance and monitoring system. According to the agency, Chinese authorities have constant access to the location of all-electric vehicles in the country, and this is not informed to buyers of these cars.

More than 200 automakers – including big names such as Tesla, BMW, Volkswagen, Ford, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and General Motors – have agreed to pass on a range of vehicle information, including location, to government monitoring centers. The companies say they have done so to comply with local law.

This measure is a requirement imposed in 2016 for all-electric cars in the country to transmit information to automakers. These companies are then forced to pass on the details to the government. At least 1.1 million vehicles are being monitored in this way, but the number is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, with the expectation that China will become the world’s leading electric market.


Government rejects charges

Despite the monitoring history of its citizens, Chinese officials have said that this is done only for the government to have local transportation data and to improve city infrastructure planning, as well as prevent fraud in subsidy programs for electric cars. The agency, however, notes that the other major markets for alternative energy vehicles – the US, Europe, and Japan – do not collect this kind of information from people.

Human rights organizations have also not bought the idea. For Maya Wang, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, this is just a way for the government to know what people are doing at all times and there is no guarantee that this data will be protected to prevent such misuse.

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