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Biden Admin to Investigate Chinese-Made ‘Smart Cars’ Posing Potential National Security Risks

The Apollo logo is seen on a car of Baidu's driverless robotaxi service Apollo Go, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China February 24, 2023. Reuters
The Apollo logo is seen on a car of Baidu’s driverless robotaxi service Apollo Go, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China February 24, 2023. Reuters

By: Jake Smith, Daily Caller News Foundation

The Biden administration announced Thursday it will investigate Chinese-made “smart cars,” citing national security risks and surveillance concerns.

The investigation will center around concerns that Beijing could use Chinese smart cars inside the U.S. to collect information on the driver and the area surrounding the vehicle, according to the White House. U.S. intelligence agencies have warned that China has capabilities allowing it access to a score of key infrastructure systems, which could potentially be exploited in the event of a global emergency.

“China is determined to dominate the future of the auto market, including by using unfair practices,’’ Biden said in a statement Thursday. “China’s policies could flood our market with its vehicles, posing risks to our national security. I’m not going to let that happen on my watch.”

The smart cars in question often have GPS location capabilities and can connect to devices such as a driver’s smartphone, the White House said. They also come with onboard sensors and cameras that collect data about infrastructure systems around the car.

Beijing, known for its sweeping surveillance efforts inside and outside of China, could manipulate this information for its own benefit, according to the White House. Equally concerning is the ability of some Chinese smart cars to be remotely piloted by an external actor.

“Imagine if there were thousands or hundreds of thousands of Chinese-connected vehicles on American roads that could be immediately and simultaneously disabled by somebody in Beijing,’’ Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told reporters on Wednesday, according to NBC News. “So it’s scary to contemplate the cyber risks, espionage risks that these pose.”

Biden has tapped Raimondo and the Commerce Department to head up the investigation. Commerce will work with the U.S. auto industry to understand the potential risks the vehicles pose and then propose new regulations and safeguards, according to the White House.

“We’re doing it now, before Chinese manufactured vehicles become widespread in the United States and potentially threaten our privacy and our national security,’’ Raimondo told reporters.

U.S. intelligence has warned that China-backed cyber operations are targeting major American infrastructure systems, such as power plants and shipping ports. In an emergency scenario – such as a Chinese invasion of Taiwan – China could disrupt these systems and cripple an American response.

The U.S. has also raised alarm that TikTok, a massive social media platform owned by a Beijing parent company, is being used as a tool to spy on Americans. Though Biden has banned TikTok from government phones over national security concerns, his reelection campaign recently created an account on the app.

The Chinese Embassy in the U.S. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Related Story: China’s Main Intel Agency has Reportedly Developed an AI System to Track U.S. Spies

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