Autonomous vehicles join list of threats to US national security
Amid growing concerns Over China’s growing international data-gathering apparatus, a recently divided US Congress is re-examining the possibility that imported Chinese technology could be a Trojan horse.
In a letter to the US National Highway Traffic Safety AdministrationShared exclusively with WIRED, Rep. August Pfluger asks tough questions about whether Washington is truly prepared for the security threat posed by the coming influx of Chinese-made smart and autonomous vehicles (AVs) into the United States.
“I remain concerned that a lack of American oversight in audio-visual technology has opened the door for a foreign country to spy on American soil as Chinese companies potentially transfer critical data to the People’s Republic of China,” writes Pfluger.
Although the audio-visual technology is still a few years away from widespread commercial use, pilot projects are already on the roads around the world. At the beginning of this year, more than 1,000 AutoX autonomous taxis were on the roads in California. AutoX, a Chinese startup backed by one of the biggest state-owned auto companies in the communist country, won California approval in 2020.
While U.S. regulators have given the green light to these test projects, writes Pfluger, “there remains a serious lack of oversight regarding their data governance.”
Earlier this year, WIRED reported on the growing national security concerns posed by vehicles made in China. The massive amount of data collected by these cars could give adversary states an unprecedented vantage point on the United States and other Western countries. Beijing has already pioneered the use of big data analysis to identify dissidents at home, and concerns have grown that such tactics could be deployed abroad.
Pfluger submitted a detailed list of questions to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which regulates the use of audio-visual vehicles, and asked the regulator to explain how it considered the national security risk posed by these companies. Chinese.
“Has NHTSA worked independently or in conjunction with cities or other local governments to limit or prevent Chinese companies from collecting sensitive information about U.S. infrastructure, including information about government facilities or sensitive military personnel, and then share this information overseas? Pfluger writes.
China has certainly had that concern about smart, electric vehicles made in the United States. Earlier this year, for example, Beijing placed firm restrictions on where Teslas might drive, especially around military installations, amid high-level Communist Party meetings.
Pfluger points out in his letter that China could use “autonomous and connected vehicles as a pathway to integrate their systems and technology into our nation’s infrastructure.” The United States, like most of its allies, has already banned Chinese giant Huawei from building 5G infrastructure, but these next-generation vehicles would have access to unprecedented numbers of emails, messages and calls. phones, and would actually move cameras. , capable of photographing a range of critical infrastructure.
As Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told a House committee last week, there are “dangers in having communications infrastructure in the hands of nation states that do not protect freedoms and rights as we do”. FBI Director Christopher Wray has warned that China has stolen more data from the United States than all other countries combined, through “increasingly sophisticated and large-scale cyber espionage operations against a range of industries, organizations and dissidents in the United States”.