Chinese electric cars may be coming to spy on you

The Biden administration investigates Chinese electric cars as a potential economic and national security threat

Illustration of cars on highway with data folders identifying each vehicle
Electric vehicles from China are "increasingly computerized," and their connection to the internet has made them "vulnerable to new security threats."
(Image credit: AerialPerspective Images / Getty Images)

The Biden administration said this week it was investigating whether Chinese electric cars and other internet-connected vehicles could pose a national security threat on American roads. Echoing U.S. concerns about other Chinese high-tech gear, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said these cars are like "smartphones on wheels." "They collect huge amounts of sensitive data on the drivers — personal information, biometric information, where the car goes,’' she said, as quoted by The Associated Press last week. "So it doesn't take a lot of imagination to figure out how a foreign adversary like China, with access to this sort of information at scale, could pose a serious risk to our national security and the privacy of U.S. citizens."

President Joe Biden said his administration intends to head off "undue" intelligence or economic risk before any damage occurs. "China's policies could flood our market with its vehicles, posing risks to our national security," Biden said. "I'm not going to let that happen on my watch." Chinese Foreign Ministry said Chinese electric cars were growing more popular not because of "so-called unfair practices" but because market competition had encouraged innovation. Cui Dongshu, secretary general of China Passenger Car Association, said it was "unfair to target cars from a specific country and impose restrictions on them exclusively," when EVs and other high-tech cars made everywhere have the same kind of sensors.

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