Tesla Inc. cars have been banned from Chinese military complexes and housing compounds because of concerns about sensitive data being collected by cameras built into the vehicles.
The order, issued by the military, advises Tesla owners to park their cars outside of military property, according to people familiar with the directive who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The ban, relayed to residents of military housing this week, was triggered by concerns that the world’s biggest maker of electric vehicles is collecting sensitive data via the cars’ in-built cameras in a way the Chinese government can’t see or control, one of the people said.
Images of what was purported to be a notice about the ban were also circulating on Chinese social media. Multi-direction cameras and ultrasonic sensors in Tesla cars may “expose locations” and the vehicles are being barred from military residences to ensure the safety of confidential military information, the notice said.
A representative for Tesla in China declined to comment on the military’s move. China’s Defense Ministry didn’t immediately respond to a fax sent after business hours.
Tesla, like many other automakers including General Motors Co., uses several small cameras, mainly located on the outside of the vehicle, to help guide parking, autopilot and self-driving functions. Most Tesla models also have an interior camera mounted above the rear view mirror that can be used to detect whether a driver is looking at the road, looking down at their lap, wearing sunglasses, or looking at something else entirely.
This isn’t the first time Tesla has found itself at the center of controversy over the use of cameras. Last week, a group of hackers said they breached a trove of security-camera data collected by Silicon Valley startup Verkada Inc., gaining access to many different types of footage, including some from inside a Tesla warehouse in Shanghai.
The hackers said they obtained access to 222 cameras in Tesla factories and warehouses and that the data breach was carried out to show the pervasiveness of video surveillance and the ease with which systems could be broken into. Tesla China told Bloomberg it was one of its suppliers that had been hacked, and that data from the Chinese Gigafactory is stored in secure local servers.
In other news – Mthokozisi Ntumba to be laid to rest in KZN today
The 35-year-old was shot and killed in Braamfontein last week when police fired rubber bullets to disperse protesting students.
At memorial service earlier this week, Ntumba’s colleagues described him as a devoted family man. Learn more