Elon Musk has hit out at claims that Tesla vehicles are a security risk, after the Chinese military reportedly banned them from its facilities.
The tech billionaire and founder of the electric car company told attendees at a Beijing conference held by the government that it would be game over for his firm if such allegations were true.
“There’s a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information,” Musk said during a virtual discussion attended by Reuters on Saturday. “If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we will get shut down.”
The remarks to high-level business attendees of the China Development Forum came after sources told the newswire on Friday that the country’s military had banned Tesla vehicles over concerns about the cameras installed in them.
It’s unclear whether the move was made for partly commercial reasons. Tesla is said to have sold nearly a third of its vehicles last year to Chinese customers, but faces increasingly close competition from local rivals like Nio and Geely.
The firm also makes cars in China and must therefore tread carefully in order not to displease the authorities.
However, Tesla has had its cybersecurity and privacy problems in the past. Back in 2018 hackers managed to breach the firm’s public cloud environment to steal non-public data and install cryptomining malware.
Then last year, researchers discovered old car parts being sold on eBay but still containing user data belonging to the previous owner. Information including home and work address, saved Wi-Fi passwords, calendar entries, call lists and address books from paired phones were leaked in a sign of problems with Tesla’s retrofitting service.
In January last year an individual shared allegedly stolen designs for new vehicle hardware on Twitter.