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Tesla announces Chinese data centre

Written by Wed 2 Jun 2021

Tesla has designated a new data centre facility in mainland China, where it promises that all data collected from electronic vehicles in China will be stored.

The new data centre was announced following restrictions placed on Tesla vehicles by the Chinese government. Under these guidelines, military staff would be prohibited from driving Teslas, as would key employees of state-owned companies. And regardless of ownership, Tesla vehicles are not allowed to enter Chinese military sites or complexes.

These restrictions were implemented due to concern that Tesla vehicles may pose a national security risk to the Chinese government. According to the Tesla website, the increasingly popular electronic vehicles are equipped with eight surround cameras with a range of up to 250m, ultrasonic sensors for collision prevention, and over-the-air software updates that are installed automatically.

With all of the sensors and cameras on Tesla cars, the vast amounts and different types of information that are gathered create extraordinarily complex datasets. Charlie Dai, a principal analyst at Forrester, told the South China Morning Post, “It’s crucial to ensure appropriate local storage for vehicle data, as this will further drive ecosystem collaboration between international manufacturers and local partners.” This, he said, will help to balance driver safety initiatives, user privacy, and national security concerns.

The new data centre was acquired specifically to ensure that the data gathered from Tesla vehicles remains in China, rather than being stored in another country. Hopefully, this will alleviate the concerns that the data gathered could pose a threat to Chinese national security. This is particularly important, considering the fact that China is already the second-largest market for Tesla vehicles, after the U.S. – accounting for one-fifth of the company’s total revenues. Elon Musk has a positive outlook on Tesla’s future in China, saying, “In the long term, China “will be our biggest market, both where we make the most number of vehicles and where we have the most number of customers.

The data centre was first confirmed by Grace Tao, head of communications and government affairs for Tesla China. She clarified that Tesla already stores data locally within Chinese borders, to comply with the 2017 data storage regulations, but that Tesla had used a third-party data centre for hosting.

With reference to Tesla deciding to acquire a data storage facility that they can own and operate themselves, Tao told a Chinese news outlet, “Tesla China is a company that’s based here and must abide by all Chinese laws and regulations. In fact, our data will be very well protected. Chinese data will be stored in China.”

Written by Wed 2 Jun 2021


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