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UK fears Chinese ‘spy’ cars

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British officials claimed that imported electric vehicles pose significant security risk

British MPs have warned against import of Chinese electric vehicles amid fears that the technology embedded in the cars could be misused to spy on British citizens by collecting troves of data including location, audio recordings and video footage, while also being vulnerable to remote interference, according to an article in The Telegraph on Saturday. 

With China leading the global EV market, cheaper Chinese vehicles are predicted to dominate the UK’s automotive sales. A cross-party group of MPs have raised concerns to the government that Britain stands to lose control over the critical infrastructure to Beijing with all the “attendant security risks.” 

“If it is manufactured in a country like China, how certain can you be that it won’t be a vehicle for collecting intel and data? If you have electric vehicles manufactured by countries who are already using technology to spy, why would they not do the same here?” an unnamed senior government official told The Telegraph.

The call comes in the wake of a new government legislation with car companies facing quotas for zero emission sales from next year, ahead of a ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles in 2030. 

“We know that China always thinks in very long terms. So if they were providing a product that could do more than just deliver the consumer’s desire to go from A to B, why would they not be doing it?” the source claimed. “They are high-risk products.”

This is not the first time for the UK to voice concerns or impose restrictions on Chinese technology over the perceived security risks. In 2020 Britain decided to ban China’s Huawei from its 5G network, ordering the removal of all firm’s equipment and services by the end of December 2023.

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