During a virtual discussion on Saturday with the China Development Forum, Elon Musk reassured the panel that Tesla’s are not being used to spy on foreign governments.
“There’s a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information,” and that, “if Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we will get shut down.”
His comments, according to Reuters, are in response to the Chinese military banning Tesla’s from their facilities the day before. The main concern they have is that the cameras that are placed on the outside of the vehicle could breach security. The Wall Street Journal reported that China has also started to limit Tesla’s being used by employees of the military and “key state-owned companies.” The military has also told some agencies to tell their employees to stop driving their cars to work and in “housing compounds for families of people working in sensitive fields.” The Tesla owners will have to park outside of these sensitive areas.
During the meeting Elon Musk wanted to calm their fears by playing devil’s advocate. The BBC wrote that Musk questioned what information the cameras would even gather and how crucial that information would be.
“Even if there was spying, what would the other country learn, and would it actually matter?”
Elon Musk made similar comments during his first appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast back in 2018. While talking about AI and about how Neuralink will give people the ability to be connected to each other more than ever, Joe Rogan questioned if privacy would be important. Elon Musk stated that he thinks that what people keep private might not really be relevant to other people and that if other people do not care than the government would not either.
Since the ban, a meeting between Chinese diplomats along U.S officials have been underway in Alaska. Barron’s writes that this led to the two to a long debate over democracy and human rights.
The ban of Tesla’s vehicles has resulted in a drop in stock price Friday morning. The stock eventually climbed back up to 0.3%.
Last time there was security concerns between the U.S. and China was last year. Former President Donald Trump threatened to ban TikTok from the U.S. due to the collection of users’ data being given to the Chinese-based social media platform to then be gathered by the Chinese government.\