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Americans should 'absolutely be concerned' about data collection, spying from Chinese EVs: Auto expert

Auto industry expert Mike Caudill spoke to Fox News Digital about the data collecting, spying risk posed by Chinese technology in electric vehicles.

Automotive expert Mike Caudill says American drivers ought to "absolutely be concerned" about whether the new digital technology used in electric vehicles and some gas-powered cars is collecting their data and giving it to questionable actors like the Chinese communist government.

The transportation expert and entrepreneur spoke to Fox News Digital recently about the rise of EVs and how technology utilized in their onboard instruments could be used to spy on Americans, and whether corporations or foreign governments have more access to Americans’ vehicles than they’re aware of. 

Concerns about potential unwanted data breaches in electric cars have grown as Chinese automakers have become a force to be reckoned with in the global electric vehicle market. 

Chinese company BYD has overtaken Tesla as the largest EV company in the world this year, and some experts are worried that when Americans start buying these vehicles the Chinese manufacturers would be able to monitor them from overseas.


It’s similar to Western governments’ fear over TikTok, the massively popular Chinese-owned social media app that collects data on users. 

Caudill described how the fear of smartphone data collection should apply to EVs.

"You've got your smartphone. Smartphones are now being integrated into vehicles. And so the problematic nature of that is the data," he said, adding, "And the content is being shared between your phone and the vehicle itself. And obviously, when you're talking about electric vehicles, they're even more high-tech. They require more data. They require more communication."

The auto guru connected this to potential Chinese spying, noting, "82% of the supply chain in the EV market comes from China. So, as we think about how our vehicles are being integrated with these various pieces of technology, we have to obviously be concerned about what data is being shared with those devices, specifically the ones that are coming from China."

Since companies like BYD have cornered the EV market across the globe (though it hasn’t come to America yet), Caudill pointed out that many consumers in Asia will have their data shared through these vehicles.

"And the question is, who's receiving that data? Is it the CCP? Is that the government?" he asked.

The Heritage Foundation Director of the Center for Energy, Climate, and Environment Diana Furchtgott-Roth penned a column for Fox News digital in February arguing that America should ban Chinese-made electric vehicles for multiple reasons, one of them being the risk of these cars spying on American citizens.

She wrote, "Chinese EVs could be equipped with even more powerful spying equipment. They could go anywhere, including military bases, power plants and cellphone towers. EVs would be far more effective than spy balloons at collecting important data, and at far lower cost – because Americans would be purchasing these vehicles. For similar security reasons the Federal Communications Commission banned Huawei and ZTE technology in 2022."

Caudill expressed that this threat of data collection and potential spying is not exclusive to Chinese EVs, but can be present in both American EVs and gas-powered cars that have some parts or features made in China.

He explained, "But what we are facing is the fact that all of our American vehicles that have this new modern technology in it, the data and the technology in those vehicles is still coming from companies that are based in China."


Providing a common example, he said, "So your big infotainment screen that you have on a vehicle, it's not all manufactured right here in the US. Some of those parts and products are coming from companies based in China."

Breaking it down further, he continued, "You have a widget, a sensor that comes from x company. That company can be based in China. And inside that widget, it can be using a certain type of way to capture data. And that data can be shared – whether it's with the automaker, or it's with the company that's actually providing that product in a vehicle." 

"So it's not exclusive to EVs. Data sharing is exclusive to any vehicle that has a high technology interface," he said.

Even more concerning is that, as car and phone integration become common, those potential Chinese-manufactured parts can have access to data shared from your phone. "Relationships that they have is unknown to the end user, the consumer," Caudill noted.

Enumerating even more spying risks on these vehicles, particularly those produced by China, he said, "You know, if you think about a modern vehicle today, they have front crash avoidance, rear pedestrian detection signs, lane departure warning. These are all sensors and cameras that are watching around the vehicle. We don't know what other systems are or are not tapping into those systems to capture data."

"So if I think about a vehicle coming to the US from China, I would absolutely be concerned," Caudill declared.

Elsewhere in the interview, the auto expert declared that there needs to be "government oversight" on this automotive tech to prevent this data collection, though he urged consumers to take steps to protect themselves in case the U.S. government doesn’t do enough. 

"And I wouldn't take my government at what their word is that they're protecting us. You have to take it into your own hands to protect yourself," Caudill said. 

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