American electric car and battery maker Tesla’s Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk used an opportunity to speak to a Chinese audience to categorically deny that the electric maker would ever use a vehicle’s technology for spying.
While speaking at the China Development Forum, a conference organized by a unit of the country’s State Council, Mr. Musk said stated if Tesla had used its cars to spy in China or anywhere else, it would be “shut down everywhere.”
“If a commercial company did engage in spying, the negative effects to that company would be extremely bad,” Mr. Musk further added.
Tesla CEO’s remarks come less than 24 hours after news emerged that Tesla’s cars had been banned from Chinese military complexes and housing compounds due to concerns about sensitive data being collected by cameras built into the vehicles.
Mr. Musk’s global growth plans are based on China, which is the world’s biggest market for electric vehicles. Last year, the company sold over 130,000 locally built Model 3 cars in the region, which is now its second-largest market after the US.
According to sources, concerns that Tesla is collecting sensitive data through cars’ in-built cameras in a way that the Chinese government can’t see or control prompted the ban was communicated to residents of military housing and others this week.
Mr. Musk commented that it was lucky that ByteDance’s TikTok was not shut down in the US, despite widespread fears that China was spying via the famous app.
“Of course, on TikTok, people are mostly just doing silly dances,” he said. “So I’m not sure if there’s anything to learn from that. Just in general, I think it’s worth thinking through, even if there was spying, what would the other country learn, and would it matter? In the vast majority of cases, it doesn’t even matter,” Mr. Musk pointed out.