Tesla Beijing Joins Musk In Denying Its Vehicles Are Spying

Electric Vehicles / Comments

We're not sure if that will help.

A few weeks ago, we told you about how the Chinese government did a security review of its Tesla fleet and was concerned about the camera constantly recording and location tracking. A week later CEO Elon Musk made a statement at the China Development Forum, a gathering organized by a unit of the country's State Council, saying that "there's a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information." He assured the audience that "if Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we will get shut down."

To drill the point home, Tesla's Beijing arm on Wednesday said on social media site Weibo that the cameras aren't activated outside of North America. In the US, Tesla notes, drivers can turn them on and off at will. It also noted that it has "a world-leading network security system to protect users' privacy."

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Tesla

We contacted Tesla for comment, but the company is notoriously bad with answering journalist questions.

Teslas, like many automakers, have cameras for parking, automated driving and other functions. But it is one of the few that has a passenger facing camera. Those are used here, and with Cadillac's Super Cruise function, to make sure the driver is looking at the road when in hands-free operation. What Cadillac doesn't have is Sentry Mode, which "continuously monitors the environment around a car when it's left unattended."

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Tesla Model X Tesla
Tesla Model X Tesla
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If a threat is detected it displays a message on the screen warning that its cameras are recording. If someone breaks a window it activates the full alarm, increases the brightness of the touchscreen and blasts music at full volume, which is honestly kind of neat.

This security/privacy issue will be huge going forward as more connected cars add more cameras and location tracking devices, not to mention the next phase of V2X (vehicle to everything) connections. Many vehicles now have Wi-Fi access through an internal hot spot and we still don't know the exact amount of data these vehicles are funneling back to automakers. We'd hope it's used to look for improvements in the driving experience, but that data is valuable any way you slice it.

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Tesla Cybertruck Tesla
Tesla Cybertruck Tesla
Tesla Cybertruck Tesla

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