For many, a car symbolizes freedom and individual choice. In China, electric cars serve as a tool for government surveillance. The Associated Press reports that car manufacturers around the world have built their EVs to send tracking data back to China’s government without the knowledge of their owners — including big names like Tesla, Ford, and GM:

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 government-backed monitoring centers, The Associated Press has found. Generally, it happens without car owners’ knowledge.

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.

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Report Reveals That Automakers In China Secretly Send Tracking Info To The Government

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