Government employees have been told to stop driving Teslas to work.
What's good for the geopolitical goose is good for the geopolitical gander. To wit: China is restricting the use of the Tesla Model S and the rest of the company's lineup for government and military employees, citing concerns about--you guessed it--privacy.
The Chinese government did a security review of the vehicles and like most of us, were concerned that the Tesla's camera can constantly record, as well as tracking the locations and times when the vehicles are being used. And if you connect your phone to it, your contacts as well. The Chinese are worried that info might be sent back to the US.
China is currently moving away from foreign technology as America is doing the same. We labeled the country's tech giant Huawei Technologies as a national security threat over fears it could possibly be spying. That's not a stretch from either side. Today, cars are loaded with microphones, cameras, GPS location tracking and a hundred other things that let manufacturers collect data. And as we know, Tesla collects a lot.
The government has started telling employees not to drive their Teslas to work, and some vehicles were banned even from the housing compounds of government higher-ups that work in sensitive spots. The restriction applies to aerospace firms, government agencies and others.
Tesla declined to comment but pointed to a previous statement it made on privacy concerns.
"Tesla's privacy protection policy complies with Chinese laws and regulations. Tesla attaches great importance to the protection of users' privacy," it said.
This is a big deal because China is an extremely important market for Elon Musk's company. With sales in that country, Tesla was able to hit the 500,000 vehicle deliveries it promised years ago. It's also currently under regulatory scrutiny in China with authorities citing quality issues.
Musk will give a speech this Saturday to a state-hosted global economic gathering where we'd expect him to speak about this. Attendees usually consists of Chinese officials, the exact people he needs to convince to get back in the country's good graces.