The Tesla Model X is a fast, beautiful car. But what many Chinese don’t know is that Tesla is constantly sending information about the precise location of every one of those cars to the Chinese government. Tesla isn’t the only automaker doing so. In fact, if the government had its way, all electric vehicle manufacturers in China would make the same kind of reports—adding to the surveillance (spy) tools already available.
China’s President Xi Jinping has been stepping up the use of technology to track Chinese citizens. More than 200 manufacturers, including Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Ford, General Motors, and Nissan transmit location information—and other data—to Chinese government-backed monitoring centers. What’s worse? It usually happens without the car owner's knowledge.
Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, China is using big data and artificial intelligence to predict and eliminate supposed threats to the ruling Communist Party.
Automakers say they’re merely complying with local laws, which apply only to electric cars. Chinese officials say the data will help improve public safety, assist with development and planning, and prevent fraud in the country’s financial aid programs.
Other countries that are major markets for electric vehicles—the United States, Japan, across Europe—do not collect this kind of data.
Michael Chertoff served as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush and recently wrote a book called Exploding Data. Chertoff says automakers who enable oppressive regimes like China’s to spy on their citizens should be asking themselves tough questions, like, “Is this really something we want to do in terms of our corporate values, even if it means otherwise forgoing that market?”
1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, “Test everything; hold fast what is good.” How might Chertoff’s question be relevant to believers?
(A Nissan Sylphy Zero Emission, Nissan’s first all-electric vehicle built in China. AP Photo)