China: Global automakers reportedly feed real-time electric car location data to govt. monitoring centres, raising privacy concerns

"Global automakers are feeding real-time location information and dozens of other data points from electric vehicles to Chinese government monitoring centers, potentially adding to China’s rich kit of surveillance tools…"

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Article
29 November 2018

Automakers give the Chinese government access to location data of electric cars

Author: Sean O'Kane, Verge

…Daimler (the parent company of Mercedes-Benz) told The Verge that the company shares this data with the government because it is mandated, but that customers are “comprehensively informed” on how it is used. Volkswagen offered a similar explanation but added that customers have to agree to the data-sharing agreement. A representative for NIO, which is an EV startup based in China, said the company complies “with the local rules and regulations of the markets we are doing business in.” Ford declined to comment. Representatives for Nissan, BMW, and Tesla did not respond to requests for comment…

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Article
28 November 2018

In China, your car could be talking to the government

Author: Erika Kinetz, Associated Press

Global automakers are feeding real-time location information and dozens of other data points from electric vehicles to Chinese government monitoring centers, potentially adding to China’s rich kit of surveillance tools…Generally, it happens without car owners’ knowledge, The Associated Press found.

More than 200 automakers selling electric vehicles in China — including Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Mitsubishi and U.S.-listed start-up NIO — send at least 61 data points to government-backed monitoring platforms, under rules published in 2016. Automakers say they are merely complying with local laws, which apply only to alternative energy vehicles. Chinese officials say the data is used for analytics to improve public safety, facilitate industrial development and infrastructure planning, and to prevent fraud in subsidy programs.

But critics say the information collected exceeds those goals and could be used to undermine foreign carmakers’ competitive position, or for surveillance…There is also concern about the precedent these rules set for sharing data from next-generation connected cars, which may soon transmit even more personal information…

Automakers initially resisted sharing information with the Shanghai monitoring center; then the government made transmitting data a prerequisite for getting incentives. “They gave you dozens of reasons why they can’t give you the data,” said a government consultant who helped evaluate the policy… “Then we offer the incentives. Then they want to give us the data because it’s part of their profit.”…

Volkswagen Group China chief executive Jochem Heizmann said he could not guarantee the data would not be used for government surveillance, but stressed that Volkswagen keeps personal data, like the driver’s identity, secure within its own systems. “It includes the location of the car, yes, but not who is sitting in it,” he said, adding that cars won’t reveal more information than smart phones already do…

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