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U.S. Says Chinese Smart Cars Will Be Used for Surveillance, Plans Restrictions

U.S. Says Chinese Smart Cars Will Be Used for Surveillance, Plans Restrictions

The U.S. has taken decisive steps towards potentially restricting the entry of internet-connected Chinese vehicles, including electric vehicles (EVs), into the American automotive market. This initiative, rooted in concerns over national security, stems from apprehensions that the sophisticated operating systems of these vehicles could serve as conduits for sensitive information to be transmitted back to Beijing, thereby posing a significant risk to the United States.

At the heart of this initiative is the commencement of an investigation by the Commerce Department into the security threats these vehicles may pose, signaling the possibility of future regulations or restrictions on Chinese automotive imports. This action is indicative of the broader strategy by the Biden administration to counter the competitive and security challenges posed by the rapid escalation of China’s electric vehicle production. The move is particularly poignant, given the context of China’s accelerated efforts to dominate the global auto market, an ambition that directly conflicts with Biden’s industrial policy aimed at bolstering American automakers both domestically and internationally.

The administration’s concerns are multifaceted, focusing not only on the potential for market disruption but also on the intricate ways in which these vehicles could be used for surveillance. According to the administration, the operating systems in Chinese-made vehicles have the capability to track an array of activities from driving routes and locations where vehicles are charged, to personal entertainment preferences while on the road, such as music or podcasts listened to by the driver. President Biden underscored this point, stating, “Connected vehicles from China could collect sensitive data about our citizens and our infrastructure and send this data back to the People’s Republic of China,” highlighting the potential for these vehicles to be “remotely accessed or disabled.”

This stance is not without precedent. The investigation, as directed by Biden, leverages new authority established under an executive order issued by his predecessor, marking a continuation of a bipartisan approach towards addressing the complexities of trade and technology with China. The administration’s move is part of a larger trend of increasing technology restrictions on China, reflecting growing concerns over cybersecurity and espionage risks.

The implications of these concerns extend beyond mere data privacy issues. The administration has pointed out that American auto manufacturers selling vehicles in China are compelled to incorporate Chinese software, suggesting a reciprocal concern over the influence of foreign software in domestic markets. Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo voiced the gravity of these concerns, stating, “It’s scary to contemplate the cyberrisks, espionage risks, that these pose,” thereby emphasizing the need for stringent measures to safeguard national security.

The broader context of this initiative includes the administration’s efforts to curb the inflow of Chinese vehicles, which have seen a surge in European markets due to their competitively low prices, attributed in part to lower labor costs. This strategy encompasses considerations to increase existing tariffs on Chinese vehicles, alongside exploring other policy measures to ensure the competitiveness of American carmakers and autoworkers.

The investigation into the security threats posed by Chinese electric vehicles is not just about safeguarding the American auto industry; it is a critical aspect of the broader struggle to maintain national security in the face of increasing belligerence in Chinese politics.

These actions by the U.S. government show an increasing understanding of the Chinese threat and a resistance to the constant pressure to allow China access and leverage in our society. While no one knows the direction this will take, we must protect ourselves from the worst possibilities, i.e. the very essence of defense.

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  1. frank stetson

    Great story on Chinese EV’s. Americans should be concerned about security, but in this case, more concerned that our auto industry is far behind and losign to the Chinese on a global basis. Apparently millions are not concerned about auto security as much as they are the environment and their wallet. Instead of being driven by the power of God, Americans want to pay more to be driven by oil. Weird. But as I said before, we are years behind the world in electric cars, both at the manufacturing level and consumer acceptance. Biden has attempted to fast start with the Chips Laws, and Battery support laws, but we are still behind.

    You could of noted the BYD is the Chinese mfg. Think they put out 3m cars last year and their factory can currently expand to 4m. They are opening many factories across the globe.

    I can understand the need not to have our cars be enemy weapons, but don’t lose sight of the big picture that they put out 3m evs. One million evs were sold in America last year.

    These guys claim they have an $11K ev that is — let’s call it viable —- but it’s 11K. Even at $22K, we can’t touch them with our current products. Even if you don’t get the tax break, hey, $20K savings can pay for a lot of taxes.

    The Chinese own the battery market. Biden made aggressive moves there, industry stepped up, but we are not competitive yet. They have low labor. Hey, that’s our cross to bear, we just have to be more efficient, effective, and innovative in our designs and manufacturing. But while DO wants you to fear the warlike reaper, I also fear the surrender of the ev market.
    But if we’re pushing out 1M and they are pushing out 3M, ultimately we will lose the automobile market.

    Not to mention, I don’t know about you, but I would take an 11K ev that might try to kill me someday. Freaking Fords been doing it for decades :>) And besides, AI gonna get us all first anyways.

    • Rick

      You go for it frank! All of you liberals should get electric cars. I will keep my oil powered car; thank you.

      Oil was put on the planet by God who’s name is Yahuwah. It is a source of power that He put in the earth for us to use, and he renews it. Oil is not a fossil fuel as has been taught. I’m sure you still think it is from rotting dinosaurs.

      The materials needed to make the batteries for the electric cars are in many cases mined by children in very poor countries.

      I would never want to own a electric car. I think that the people that have and are buying them will be getting terrible cancers from sitting on top of a huge electromagnetic field every time the go somewhere.

      So, go ahead and have your electric car frank. But, being a liberal, you wont be happy unless everyone is forced to have what you think they should have.

      • frank stetson

        I will buy an EV Rick, and you can do what you want. I see no need to force an ev mandate, the market will take care of itself since EV’s at some point will make more dollars and sense as to be the cost efficent choice, not to mention the better choice for the environment.

        It’s “whose” name, who’s means who is in your typo. And I am happy you choose the Hebrew version; I go with he Greek, Tetragrammaton,myself. But oil, while like all things, created by God, Yahuwah, Yasuwah, YHWH or Tetragrammaton, whatever, is most certainly not dinosaurs but hydrocarbons that formed from the remains of animals and plants, as in diatoms, but certainly before the’saurs. I agree that God put it hear for our use, just as he put the sun in the sky, for our use. Which one is closer to heaven and which one, HELL?

        But, all gospel fun aside, you make an excellent comment re: EMF harm which I am a strong beleiver in. Too bad you don’t seem to know much about it OR did any actual research. I do not think there are Federal Regulations on EMF, but I do beleive it causes DNA changes, especially in the young. It has an interesting quality in that it disapates a lot over distance. If you measure 90Mg at 6 inches like off your LED clock, then at 1 foot, it’s 20Mg and it’s one 1Mg at 4 feet. Plus, it depends on a number of elements therefore a lot of power cruising through high tension wires is much safer than being the same distance from a transformer. Transformation of energy really causes EMF.

        In my own testing, Mom was right —- stay 4 feet from that TV, and because of distance/coversion — the back of the screen can be more dangerous than the front. Weird stuff that EMF. Your appliances, wires, plugs all carry EMF, but in my testing the main power cable ran down the corner of the house and you would have to be 1 inch from the wall to even catch a snippet of EMF.

        Try this with your trusty gausmeter. Measure the hair blower at the standard distance you would use it from your head. Not too bad EMF. Now try the electric razor at the standard distance from your chin: you’re toast. EMF is so cool that way. Whatever you do, don’t kiss your LED clock, those high frequency power-to-light transforming wonders are killers if you get close.

        Bottom line — EVs are very safe regarding EMF. If you had looked before you leaped, you would have seen

        “There is one notable study conducted in 2014 that investigated EMF levels in eleven different car models – seven electric, one hydrogen, and one petrol vehicle.

        Here’s a summary of the study:

        This research project, led by SINTEF and involving nine other European countries, considered the rising number of electric vehicles and ongoing public apprehension about exposure to magnetic fields.

        The researchers used The International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines, which we’ve just discussed.

        The research team tested eleven different car models – seven electric, one hydrogen, and one petrol vehicle – to determine whether they approached the prescribed limits for human exposure. These tests were performed in both laboratory conditions and during actual road trips.

        The highest values in electric cars were recorded near the floor, close to the battery, and during the startup phase. However, in all instances, the exposure to magnetic fields did not exceed 20% of the ICNIRP’s recommended limit. Notably, the measurements taken at head height were less than 2% of the same limit.

        Exposure levels for petrol and diesel cars were recorded at approximately 10% of the prescribed limit, showing little variation between electric and conventionally powered vehicles.

        The lead researcher, Schjølberg-Henriksen, states, “there is absolutely no cause for concern.”

        As far as the children workng, I agree that’s terrible and the battery mining is some of the worst. However, you buy child-produced stuff all the time, you put your cell phone next to your head for hours a day, give me a break. Be against it in all forms, not just for stuff you don’t like. That’s spin.

        Lastly, yes, I will have my V8 400 horse four-wheel, real four-wheel, anti-anti-lock break crew cab forever. It’s getting onto 30 years and looks brand new. But some of these evs are really fast, have a better maintenance profile, and look really cool to me, so yeah, I will have one, probably this year just in case Trump gets in and kicks back the kick-back mandating that we drive coal-fired cars from West Virginia. Bet you’d buy one of those :>)

        Next time, look it up before you look like this. Ouch. BUSTED

        • Tom

          Frank, do you know if that was a long term study where they tracked someone driving the EV every day for lets say two hours per day? Or was it just a one-time testing of product and EMF at different levels within the car? I don’t think EVs have been driven enough by enough people long term to do a study yet.

          I did find a study in the NIH database where in Section 4.5 it says the following:

          “4.5. Health Aspects of Exposure to EMF in EVs

          An EV driver’s long-lasting daily exposure to EMF, even if compliant with the exposure limits, cannot be counted to be negligible when the context of possible adverse health effects due to chronic exposure to EMF is considered. The ELF MF was classified to be a possible carcinogenic to human (2B classification) based on the epidemiologically proven elevated carcinogenic health risks in populations chronically exposed to MF exceeding 0.4 μT (attention level related to yearly averaged exposure) [38,39,40]. The level of ELF MF exposure reported in various studies focused on EMF in EVs and discussed in this article may significantly contribute to the total long-lasting exposure to drivers.”

          I think Rick’s comment was based on long term use which this study that most Americans do not know about and would never read, says there is reason for concern. Transmission line EMF and EV car EM are two different things and need to be looked at separate. So I am issuing a temporary “stay of bust order”. :>)

          My reference is **

      • Tom

        Interesting point about the electromagnetic fields around and inside the car. Nobody has looked at that yet, nor have I read anything about it. Your point is similar to high cell phone use causing brain tumors in high cell phone users. One thing I can tell you is auto towing companies are starting to refuse towing the EVs because their equipment acts as a conductor and tow truck drivers are getting zapped when they hook one up to their truck.

        • frank stetson

          Gonna ask for a source on that little piece of urban myth about the towing.

          You are always better off flat-bedding a EV just like the good ole days with my Suby four-wheel drives.

          Amer. Cancer Society says: “This study (2022 I think) found no link between cell phone use and the risk of brain tumors overall or of several common brain tumor subtypes. But again, there are limits as to how well this study might apply to people using cell phones today.”

          The thing is, with EMF, I believe it and have so since the 80’s. Tested my own house and found little risk, but follow Mom’s rule about 4 feet from the TV, and CRTs in those days, but more so from the back, as in you are fine in the office but you’re killing the cubicle behind yours….. Not sure on the lcd’s, but generally —- LEDs are really bad. Good thing they are small…… I was surprised I could pickup the pole transformer from the ground. That scared me. My police department/court is right next to a huge transformer station. Those people work in unsuitable conditions, but did they listen to me….. Fact is I don’t think we have regulations or even safety guides here. The power companies lobby well and it’s very hard to pinpoint clusters given the long term nature, people moving, small sample sizes, etc.

          But if cell phones and electric razors haven’t spread a noticeable lukemia by now, I could be overly cautious here. I do have a radon mitigation system though….. Radon is so cool, I had a real time tester, I just loved it. Updated every 15 minutes and it was amazing —- high pressure – less radon, low pressure – more. More at either morning or evening, I can’t remember. I was fascinated, but mitigated as kids popped out.

          I think damning EVs over EMF will be a longshot, but does make sense to step away from the charging station, or stay in the car as a second choice, but standing next to the station is probably not prudent at this time……

          • frank stetson

            Tom, sorry for the duplication here, least I’m consistent……..

            EMF damage is both duration and proximity. Proximity as in EMF drops rapidly with distance. And obviously, the longer you stay next to danger, the worse off you are. Developing kids are probably more at risk than adults. Also, EMF is higher for conversions and transformations than transport. That’s why living under the high-tension power lines safer than living next to the transformer station. Even those transformers on the poles give off a pretty good shot. Electric razors, bad. Blow dryers, not that bad. Power lines, not that bad. Transformers, really bad. And so on. Frankly, I am shocked that cell phones have not caused leukemia, so maybe it’s all not that big a threat.

            I’m a nut for testing. Radon, EMF, Air Quality, RF, you name it, I have tested. When I looked, I only saw a study from 2014, yours looks newer and it concludes the worst danger is at the charging station (remember what I said about conversion) so walk away from the car….. Ten feet or less will probably be fine. The study said outside the car, near the charger was 3 times what was going on inside the car, which is too high to begin with. These are fast charging stations so it sort of makes common sense.

            My study showed conclusions in my previous post. Yours, while ponderous, seemed to conclude it’s higher, no duh, not over the limits of what you get other places, and the only potential danger mentioned is what we don’t know will happen over a lifetime, especially for kids, and back off the fast-charging stations —- just step away from the car while charging. I can live with that. Makes sense and I would hope they get more shielding. Like I said, I don’t use electric razors because of EMF, but hair dryers are just fine if you don’t smash them against your head while using.

            Did you see something that I didn’t?

            FYI — no, I am not being moderated that I can tell.

    • Tom

      Frank, I think we should let the market determine. If the people want gasoline, then they should have that until EVs can prove themselves using a level playing field with gasoline and no government reimbursement.

      1) In the case of China, these are state owned factories where they can set labor costs. And they set those costs low. Here that is not possible with unions. They do collective bargaining.

      2) China is using cheap electric generated by coal fire power plants to manufacture these vehicles, here we have environmental laws that are getting rid of this cheap form of power. The USA in the past 15 years has cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half and is half of China’s emissions. China has filled the space by putting more emissions in the air with these factories.

      3) I did not see a lot of gas stations when I traveled throughout five Chinese cities. It is much easier for them to go EV because they are not dealing with as much infrastructure change. They did advanced planning and have been working towards this for at least a decade.

      4) Many in China are skeptical about their EVs since several have caught fire while charging in the garage and burned down housing buildings, most recently killing 11. This just happened last week.

      5) China has much better mass transportation so if your EV will not work, you can always take the subway, train, call a taxi which is very cheap in China, or take a train. Who do you call if here if you have an EV that will not start due to cold weather and you have a doctor appointment that you absolutely must get to?

      6) Most people do not know that China has “Security Laws” which state that any vehicle coming into China must use Chinese software. Their reason is exactly what this article was about, security concerns that can arise as a result of using an EV with foreign software. Maybe we should make the same law? Maybe this is a good area for tariffs to support our counter-espionage efforts against Chinese hacking. Or maybe we create a law that the Chinese cars come here without software and that we specify that they must be able to accept American software from a federally funded software vendor. I think we should do the same thing with cars that are presently coming from Vietnam.

      Frank, I am in the market for a car. I am going gasoline due to my last experience with a Toyota Prius. I ended up having to buy another battery for that car just 3 months after the warranty ran out. That cost me $2,300 which means any gas money I saved I just ended up giving to the repair place to troubleshoot my battery and replace bad cells. Three cells were replaced. The battery lasted four years and I sold it because it developed problems again and was just to expensive to repair!

      Most people are not aware that even a minor accident with an EV pretty much scraps the EV if the frame was even just nicked or slightly bent because the batteries are part of the frame. Because if the battery is nicked or bent slightly, it needs to be replaced and its too expensive, so it gets scrapped. Insurance companies are looking at how to restructure their rates for this, and it will be increases. Right now gas powered car driver insurance is subsidizing this.

      The fact of the matter is that our infrastructure will not be set up and ready to accommodate mass use of EVs for at least ten years, realistically 15 years. So why not go hybrid till then and push a gas tax that goes towards infrastructure, not just into a general pot somewhere.

      Thus, I might upset you with my decision, but I am going gas. I will buy a high gasoline high MPG car like a Corolla, or Soul or something that gets at least 30+ miles per gallon.

      It might interest you to know that Japan is not going EV. They are going gas and hybrid – and right now Toyota is reporting its highest profits in the history of the company. I have always said this is what we should have done, AND, work to develop some form of hydrogen or natural gas cars for mass production. It would be cheaper to add hydrogen liquification plants than redo the electric grid. And Hydrogen is 99.2% pure, its bi-product is mostly water, it returns to the air and can be used again, and hydrogen and natural gas will work in the cold weather.

      • frank stetson

        Tom, I agree the market should determine. And the market has determined it,, the US just needs to catch up, but the die is cast, the future is EV. Sans any disaster, it’s just a matter of time for us. Your question is not if, but when.
        If my hybrid battery died, yes, I would do exactly what you are. I not only have no issue, but that new Vet really looks great. But I paid the same price as a gas car for my shitty hybrid, knowingly, and it saved a lot of money with the lowest maintenance of any mobile I have ever owned. Different kettle of fish. During this last gas crunch, I said thank you for supporting my decision and drove more while never even noticing the price increase. (Didn’t fill the truck much then). Honda’s maintenance profile is the best I have seen, beat Subaru by scads of dollars.

        In terms of your China case, sorry, but who cares. I just want an $11K hybrid and realize they have labor, regulatory, environmental, and even timing advantages. I don’t often play politics with my pocketbook. Ford already has a low-cost competitor on the boards. We have done this over and over in many markets with many products.

        In my own case, yeah —- they could skip the wires and go right for wireless with their telephony network build out. Plus, they could ride on top by merging telephony with data from the git-go of the build out. Who cares, I beat them anyways though innovation, factory excellence and efficiencies, and top-notch customer service. I even built product there, used a lot of Indian engineering; I believe if you want a global presence, you need to be global. Nationalism is a killer, international is not a winner, you need to be global.

        But if you expect me to spend an additional 10K, 20K or even 30K for a product, I think you do not know my conservative side: on the money. I am pretty sure the market has spoken. And Japan owns a small 3% share, you are correct, they are slow to adopt while Scandinavian countries are fast to adopt. While other technologies may offer benefits, the EV is on its way and will be very hard to displace without an extreme benefit.

        But if BYD is selling 3M cars, and we are selling 1M, if this continues, we will lose the EV market and the EV market will be the auto market so we will lose that too. Still should not change your purchase decision on this round, but in the future —- you will have an EV, the market has spoken — this is not Betamax.

  2. Wes Kussmaul

    Can’t they use Wireshark to monitor the “call home” communication? Even if the data is encrypted, the routing data and metadata would reveal what they’re up to.

    • Jim wampler

      I want a huuuuge carbon footprint

      • frank Stetson

        And why do you want a “huge carbon footprint,” mr. wampler?