Tesla charging stations in Weifang, China. Photo: Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

Teslas and other electric vehicles in China constantly send information about the precise location of cars to the government, AP's Erika Kinetz reports.

Why it matters: The data adds "to the rich kit of surveillance tools available to the Chinese government as President Xi Jinping steps up the use of technology to track Chinese citizens."

  • "China has unleashed a war on dissent, marshalling big data and artificial intelligence to create a more perfect kind of policing, capable of predicting and eliminating perceived threats to the stability of the ruling Communist Party."
  • "There is also concern about the precedent these rules set for sharing data from next-generation connected cars, which may soon transmit even more personal information."

"More than 200 manufacturers, including Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Mitsubishi and U.S.-listed electric vehicle start-up NIO, transmit position information and dozens of other data points to [Chinese] government-backed monitoring centers."

  • "Generally, it happens without car owners’ knowledge."

The responses: "The automakers say they are merely complying with local laws, which apply only to alternative energy vehicles."

  • "Chinese officials say the data is used for analytics to improve public safety, facilitate industrial development and infrastructure planning, and to prevent fraud in subsidy programs."
  • "But other countries that are major markets for electronic vehicles — the United States, Japan, across Europe — do not collect this kind of real-time data."

Go deeper: The race for the next billion cars

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