China bans Tesla cars in military complexes on concerns about cameras

19 March 2021 - 14:12 By Reuters
China has banned Tesla models from visiting its military bases.
China has banned Tesla models from visiting its military bases.
Image: Tesla Inc

The Chinese military banned Tesla cars from entering military housing complexes, citing security concerns over the cameras installed on the vehicles, according to two people who saw notices of the directive.

The order issued by the military advises Tesla owners to park their cars outside military property, Bloomberg had earlier reported, adding that the ban was notified to residents of military housing this week.

Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported that China's government was restricting the use of the company's cars by personnel at military, state-owned enterprises in sensitive industries and key agencies, as they could be a source of national security leaks.

It was not immediately clear whether the measure applied to all such facilities.

China's state council information office and Tesla did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment. China's defence ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.

Tesla cars have several small cameras externally to assist with parking and self-driving. Model 3 and Model Y also have cameras embedded in the rear view mirror for driver safety that is disabled by default.

Tesla top boss Elon Musk has been open about the internal camera, taking to Twitter in 2019 to say: “It's there for when we start competing with Uber/Lyft & people allow their car to earn money for them as part of the Tesla shared autonomy fleet. In case someone messes up your car, you can check the video.”

Musk has often spoken about the value of data Tesla vehicles can capture that can be used to develop autonomous driving functions. Other automakers are also equipping vehicles with cameras and other sensors that can capture images of objects around the car.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the move comes after a government security review of the company's vehicles, citing people familiar with the effort.

Chinese officials found that Tesla cars sensors could record visual images of surrounding locations, the report added.