Auto Tech

Tesla tries again to calm spying fears in China, promises EV cameras remain off

The Chinese military reportedly banned Tesla vehicles from entering sensitive installations.

Tesla to China: Seriously, we don't spy on people.

Tesla's doing its darnedest to assure Chinese buyers its cars' cameras and other sensors do not spy on drivers. Reuters reported Wednesday the automaker's official Chinese social media page posted a new statement surrounding the controversy.

"Even in the United States, car owners can freely choose whether to turn on [the camera system's] use," the post on Weibo said. "Tesla is equipped with a network security system with world-leading security levels to ensure user privacy protection."

Tesla does not operate a public relations department to field requests for comment, but the fact that Tesla is still working to calm fears in China is telling. The company continues to work toward expanding production and sales locally to gain a stronghold in the world's largest market not just for electric cars, but also for new vehicles in general.

Last month, China's government handed Tesla a harsh verdict as it banned members of the military and key personnel at various state departments from driving their EVs to sensitive complexes and agencies. It isn't a fan of the fact the cars' cameras and sensor capabilities could record images, location and even track data on where owners drive them.

CEO Elon Musk spoke at the China Development Forum shortly after the reported decision came from the country and said, "If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we [would] get shut down," as he worked to douse the issue.

Even here in its home country, Tesla's use of in-cabin cameras recently came under scrutiny, despite the fact owners must opt in for the system to work. Just one of many concerns is the fact passengers may not consent to being recorded inside a Tesla, even though the driver has.