Tesla assures China the cameras in its cars are turned off

Spying concerns have been raised

Tesla has averted its eyes in China.

The automaker has taken to social media to ensure customers in the country that the cameras installed in their cars are turned off.

All Teslas have eight external cameras that are primarily for their driver-assist features but can also record video, while the Model 3 and Model Y also have a camera installed near the rearview mirror that can monitor the cabin.

It was reported in March that Teslas had been banned from Chinese military complexes due to spying concerns.

"Even in the United States, car owners can freely choose whether to turn on its (the camera system's) use. Tesla is equipped with a network security system with world-leading security levels to ensure user privacy protection," the electric carmaker wrote on Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media site, according to Reuters.


Musk had previously addressed the spying issue by pointing out that the company is aware that it would be shut down if it engaged in such activity.

Tesla has begun to use the interior camera in North America to gather data on driver awareness related to the use of its Full Self-Driving feature. Elon Musk said that several early access "beta" testers were barred access to the latest version of the software for not paying sufficient attention to the road.

However, the FAQ section on Tesla's website says that the images captured are not associated with any information that identifies the vehicle that they come from and that the video is not available to the vehicle's owner.

Consumer Reports has criticized Tesla's practice, pointing out that other automakers use facial recognition systems with their driver-assist features that are not capable of recording video.

In 2019, Musk said the camera was intended to be used to monitor passengers when owners deployed their vehicles as autonomous taxis in a service Tesla planned to launch, in case any damage was done.

None of Tesla's vehicles are currently capable of fully autonomous driving as envisioned by the taxi scheme.