The Biden Administration Plans to Probe the National Security Threats Associated With Chinese-manufactured ‘Smart Cars’


Citing potential national security concerns, the Biden administration has announced an investigation into Chinese-made “smart cars” capable of collecting sensitive information about American drivers.

While stopping short of imposing a ban on Chinese imports, President Joe Biden emphasized the need to protect Americans’ data and prevent China from exploiting advanced technology in electric cars and connected vehicles to track individuals and gather personal information.

The investigation could potentially lead to new regulations addressing these security risks. President Biden expressed concern that China’s practices in the auto market, viewed as unfair, could flood the U.S. market with its vehicles, posing risks to national security.

Chinese-Manufactured Smart Car (Credits: WIRED)

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo highlighted the serious national security risk posed by connected cars, describing them as “smart phones on wheels” that collect extensive data on drivers, including personal and biometric information.

There are fears that a foreign adversary, such as China, could leverage this information at scale, posing risks to national security and the privacy of U.S. citizens.

Beyond data collection concerns, officials pointed out that connected vehicles could be remotely manipulated or enabled by malicious actors.

Raimondo warned of the potential cyber risks and espionage posed by Chinese-connected vehicles on American roads, envisioning scenarios where they could be simultaneously disabled by someone in Beijing.

While few Chinese cars are currently imported to the U.S., concerns persist, and officials believe tariffs alone may not be sufficient to address the problem.

The Commerce Department plans to issue an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, launching an investigation into national security risks associated with connected vehicles from China and other countries considered hostile.

The department will seek input from the auto industry and the public to assess the nature of the risks and propose potential regulations to govern the use of technology in vehicles from China and other concerning countries.

The investigation is viewed as a preventive measure, initiated before Chinese-manufactured vehicles become widespread in the United States.

The goal is to safeguard privacy and national security, recognizing the increasing reliance of electric vehicles and other cars on advanced technologies that connect with personal devices, infrastructure, and original manufacturers.

The move comes amid ongoing concerns about China’s trade practices, with the European Union also conducting a trade investigation into Chinese subsidies for electric vehicles.

The Biden administration’s investigation represents the first action taken by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security under executive orders aimed at protecting domestic information and communications technology from national security threats.

The focus on national security risks associated with connected vehicles aligns with the broader trend of addressing potential vulnerabilities arising from advanced technologies in critical infrastructure.