Tesla automobiles have numerous cameras that capture and send information back to Tesla to enhance its Autopilot. But this is becoming an issue for the manufacturers as all Tesla cars have been banned from a Chinese town for two months over spying fears.
Ahead of what may be an extremely clandestine government meeting, Chinese officials want to temporarily restrict all Tesla automobiles from entering a coastal resort town due to security concerns.
According to Reuters, a police official verified that starting on July 1 all Tesla vehicles will be prohibited from entering the city for a period of two months. Beidaihe is a coastal resort town on the Bohai Sea in northeast China, roughly three hours from Beijing. The choice was made one month after Chengdu’s central city government banned Teslas from the roads in advance of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit there.
The official from the Beidaihe Traffic Police Brigade did not explain why American vehicles would be prohibited but stated that it was due to “national affairs.” Traditional meetings of the top Chinese leadership to discuss policy are held in the resort town.
Chinese authorities may be concerned about Teslas for a number of reasons, including the fact that each one is outfitted with eight cameras and sensors that offer 360-degree visibility at a range of up to 250 meters and power Autopilot. Although neither the official nor Reuters acknowledged it, the cameras probably constitute a risk to national security.
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Due to the numerous cameras that capture and send information back to Tesla to enhance its Autopilot, the People’s Liberation Army last year prohibited Teslas from military bases due to concerns about eavesdropping. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, claimed at the time that the vehicles did not spy and that all the data that each one in China gathered had to be redirected to a Chinese database.
American Teslas are still under close inspection for spying despite Chinese Teslas submitting their data to domestic data centers. Conversely, Washington has prohibited the Department of Defense from purchasing Chinese-made drones because of concern that they are spying on US infrastructure.