Tesla Cars Face China Ban Over Spying Fears

Tesla Faces China Ban Over Spy Fears

Tesla cars are banned from Chinese town over spying fear

A Chinese resort town has banned Tesla cars amid concerns that their cameras and sensors are being used to spy on China’s leaders.

While it’s widely believed that Tesla and China are on good terms— with Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, in particular having a track record of praising the Chinese people and steering clear of the Chinese government— new reports indicate that Tesla’s cars have been banned from entering Beidaihe for the last two months over concerns that Tesla’s advanced driverless AI tech could be used to spy on a meeting of the country’s leadership.

It’s worth noting, too, that this isn’t the first time Tesla cars have been restricted from certain areas in China. Last year, the Chinese military issued a ban on Tesla owners to keep them from parking their vehicles on military bases and in neighboring housing complexes.


China Reacts to Tesla AI Capabilities

Tesla cars banned from China's military complexes on security concerns -sources
Image by Yilei Sun; courtesy Reuters.

That fear is, perhaps, not unfounded. Since at least 2016, all Tesla cars have, “the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver,” according to the company’s press materials. Tesla goes on to list, “Eight surround cameras provide 360 degree visibility around the car at up to 250 meters of range. Twelve updated ultrasonic sensors complement this vision, allowing for detection of both hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of the prior system … a new onboard computer with more than 40 times the computing power of the previous generation runs the new Tesla-developed neural net for vision, sonar and radar processing software. Together, this system provides a view of the world that a driver alone cannot access, seeing in every direction simultaneously and on wavelengths that go far beyond the human senses.”

We’re not saying Teslas are definitely being used to “spy” on people. That said, if someone wanted to spy on people, they could probably do a lot worse than to try and use a Tesla to do it. It seems to be a valid enough, at least, that Elon Musk weighed in directly back in March. “There’s a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information,” he said. “If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we will get shut down.”

What do you guys think? Is China overreacting, or is there a real chance that someone could hack a Tesla and use it to spy on people, regardless of Elon’s intentions? Scroll on down to the comments and let us know.








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