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‘Phones on Wheels’ — Feds Pledge to Investigate Security Risks of Chinese Smart Cars

Can Chinese-made “smart cars” gather sensitive information about the Americans driving them? Federal authorities want to find out and establish just what potential national security risks are involved in the sensor-packed vehicles.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Wednesday connected cars “are like smart phones on wheels” and need to be investigated as automakers with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seek to flood the world with their four-wheeled products.

“These vehicles are connected to the internet. They collect huge amounts of sensitive data on the drivers — personal information, biometric information, where the car goes,’’ Raimondo told reporters according to AP.

“So it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out how a foreign adversary like China, with access to this sort of information at scale, could pose a serious risk to our national security and the privacy of U.S. citizens.’’

Connected vehicles could also be remotely enabled or manipulated by bad actors, she noted, repeating fears already expressed over Chinese tech companies like Huawei which are increasingly seen as a security risk.

The planned probe could lead to new regulations aimed at preventing China from using sophisticated technology in so-called connected vehicles to track drivers and share their personal information with third parties.

Officials are concerned that features such as driver assistance technology could be used to effectively spy on Americans without them knowing.

Electric vehicles and other cars increasingly rely on advanced technologies to enable navigational tools, provide driver-assist features and reduce operating costs and carbon emissions through fast charging, the White House said in confirming the investigation.

The cars are constantly connecting with personal devices, other cars, U.S. infrastructure and their original manufacturer, posing national security risks.

New vulnerabilities and threats “could arise with connected autos if a foreign government gained access to these vehicles’ systems or data,’’ the White House affirmed.

China dominates the international market for electric vehicles partly due to its grip on the supply chain.

The nation controls much of the mining of crucial raw materials, 80 percent of the battery-making for EVs is controlled by Chinese firms and it is the world’s top car exporter.



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