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March 19, 2021, 9:41 a.m. EDT

China to restrict use of Tesla vehicles by military and state personnel

People familiar with the effort cite concerns Tesla cars could be source of national security leaks

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By Keith Zhai

Bloomberg News/Landov

SINGAPORE—China’s government is restricting the use of Tesla Inc.’s vehicles by personnel at military, state-owned enterprises in sensitive industries and key agencies, citing concerns that the American electric-vehicle maker’s cars could be a source of national security leaks, according to people familiar with the effort.

The move follows a government security review of Tesla’s vehicles, which Chinese officials said found that the cars’ sensors could record visual images of surrounding locations, the people said. Also, the Chinese government said Tesla—through the vehicles—could obtain various data such as when, how and where the cars are being used, as well as personal information of the drivers and the contact list of mobile phones that are synced to the cars, the people said. The government is concerned that some data could be sent back to the U.S., the people said.

The government has informed some of its agencies to ask their employees to stop driving Tesla cars to work, they said. Some of the people said Tesla cars were also banned from driving into housing compounds for families of personnel working in sensitive industries and state agencies. They were told by their agencies that among the government’s concerns is that Tesla vehicles can be constantly in record mode, using cameras and other sensors to log various details, including short videos.

Tesla /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA +1.75%  declined to comment on the government’s move. It referred The Wall Street Journal to a comment it has previously made to Chinese media in response to previous data security concerns. “Tesla’s privacy protection policy complies with Chinese laws and regulations. Tesla attaches great importance to the protection of users’ privacy,” it said. It also said in-car cameras aren’t turned on for all Tesla vehicles in China.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com .

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Write to Keith Zhai at keith.zhai@wsj.com

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