JAKARTA - U.S. electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla has announced that the cameras in their vehicle products are not activated outside of North America.
The statement was issued by Tesla through Chinese social media pages on Wednesday, April 7. The goal is to defuse safety concerns in the world's largest car market.
"Even in the United States, car owners can freely choose whether to enable the use of (its camera system)," Tesla wrote on Weibo, a Twitter-like social media site in China, as reported by Reuters.
"Tesla is equipped with a world-leading network security system, to ensure the protection of user privacy," the statement continued.
China is a major battleground for electric vehicles. By 2020, about 30 percent of Tesla's total global sales will come from China.
Earlier, in March, the Chinese military issued a ban on Tesla cars entering military housing complexes, citing safety concerns, related to cameras attached to electric vehicles.
The Russian military is ordering Tesla owners to park their cars outside military property. Bloomberg reported that the ban was also notified to residents of military housing.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Chinese Government is limiting the use of Tesla alert cars by Chinese military personnel, state-owned companies in sensitive industries, and major agencies, as they can be a source of national security leaks.
China has accused Tesla of being able to obtain important data when the car is used, anytime and anywhere. This includes the ability to track personal information, such as contact numbers on cell phones connected to Tesla cars. China is concerned that the data will be sent to the United States.
In response to the allegations, Tesla CEO Elon Musk raised his voice. He said it would shut down the company if Tesla-made electric cars were used for espionage.
"There is a very strong urge for us to keep any information very secret. If Tesla uses cars to spy on China or anywhere else, we will be shut down," Musk said at a forum titled China Development Forum held online.
The forum is a high-level meeting in the business field. Elon Musk made the remarks by saying he wanted mutual trust between the United States and China.
Long before, Elon Musk had opened up about internal cameras on his company's production vehicles. Musk often talks about the value of data Tesla vehicles can capture, which can be used to develop autonomous driving functions.
"It's been around since we started competing with Uber/Lyft and people allowed their cars to make money for them as part of Tesla's fleet of autonomous cars. If someone screws up your car, you can check out the video," Musk said.
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