Tesla gives China’s new data security proposal a big like

By Elles Houweling

US electric vehicle (EV) maker Tesla has expressed its support for China’s proposed stricter automobile data collection regulations. This comes after the company suffered a significant sales decline in the Chinese market last month.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s central internet regulator, proposed a series of draft rules on Wednesday titled “Provisions on the Management of Automobile Data Security” which would impose stricter regulations on car companies concerning customer data collection.

Soon after, Tesla’s official account on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo reposted the draft rules with a statement, saying: “We support and respond to the development of the industry to move further towards standardisation, and jointly promote technological innovation. We welcome everyone to provide suggestions to promote the healthy and orderly development of the automotive industry.”

The draft rules set out by CAC state they are to “strengthen the protection of personal information and important data, regulate automobile data processing activities, and safeguard national security and public interest.”

This means that carmakers will have to inform customers and collect approval before collecting data such as fingerprints, geographic locations, driving habits, biometric data, and audio and video recordings of their journeys.

The draft regulation also seeks to ensure that data collected on Chinese citizens must be stored in China and in accordance with Chinese law. In addition, the legislation would give authority to the “Cyberspace Administration of China and relevant departments of the State Council to conduct data security assessments and random inspections.”

The open show of support from Tesla is arguably an endeavour to regain the favour of Chinese authorities and citizens. Last month, the EV maker suffered a wave of social media backlash in China after a woman claimed that the brakes in her Tesla malfunctioned, causing the car to crash. Tesla denied these allegations and insisted that the woman was speeding. This incident happened only a few weeks after Chinese authorities grilled the company’s executives over the safety of its cars.

According to GlobalData’s thematic analysis, Tesla is one of the market leaders when it comes to connected cars. However it faces fierce competition from other brands, especially now that China is increasing its efforts to bolster up its domestic smart vehicle industry.

The draft rules come less than two weeks after the National Information Security Standardisation Technical Committee, a Chinese government-affiliated standards-setting body, released its own proposed rules on networked cars. They include a provision requiring car companies that send encrypted data overseas to provide Chinese authorities with decrypted user data, South China Morning Post reports.