Briefing: China’s collection of car data raises privacy concerns

In China, your car could be talking to the government – Associated Press

What happened: More than 200 electric vehicle manufacturers with cars on China’s roads transmit position data, as well as 60 other data points, including mileage and battery charge, to the Chinese government to comply with Chinese laws. The regulations apply to both domestic and international alternative energy vehicle manufacturers. An investigation by the Associated Press found that, generally, car owners are unaware the data is being collected.

Why it’s important: Chinese authorities have defended the move, saying the data is used to improve public safety, promote development and infrastructure planning, and prevent subsidy fraud. Critics argue that collection exceeds what is required to meet these goals. Gathering such information is commonplace around the world, but the flow usually stops at the manufacturer, and requests for data by the government and law enforcement are typically required to go through the courts. Currently, electric cars produce limited data, but Chinese authorities could be setting a precedent for when autonomous vehicles, which have much broader data processing abilities, are commonplace on the country’s roads.