Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

Electric cars routinely transmit info to Chinese government

The Big Green government: Manufacturers of electric cars design the cars so that they routinely transmit information about the car’s status and position to the Chinese government.

More than 200 manufacturers, including Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Mitsubishi and U.S.-listed electric vehicle start-up NIO, transmit position information and dozens of other data points to government-backed [Chinese] monitoring centers, The Associated Press has found. Generally, it happens without car owners’ knowledge.

The automakers say they are merely complying with local laws, which apply only to alternative energy vehicles. Chinese officials say the data is used for analytics to improve public safety, facilitate industrial development and infrastructure planning, and to prevent fraud in subsidy programs.

Outside of China the information is also gathered, but by private companies. Car owners can opt out, but that seems to me to be the unethical way to arrange this. Owners should instead be asked if they want to opt in.

In fact, the gathering of this data, privately or by governments, without the permission of the car owner, is entirely unethical and immoral. That these companies and their managers see nothing wrong with this is another illustration of the abandonment of morality in modern culture. It is also another reason why I want my hi-tech equipment to be as dumb as possible. Above all, I do not want it linked electronically beyond itself.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • wayne

    tangential deviousness related to this type of behavior– there is a growing movement to tax your car travel, by the mile driven, whether gas or electric powered.
    –I believe this was seriously proposed in Oregon a few years ago. (?)
    More efficient gasoline engines generate less gas-tax and electric cars pay zero gas-tax. (which theoretically, pays for the roads [state & federal] but is often blown on high-speed rail & bike trails rather than road maintenance and upkeep.)
    Further tangent– my auto insurer is constantly offering me a (lousy 10%) discount on my car insurance if I attach their monitoring-device to my car, so it can spy on me.

    (In the Alternate Universe, I might say it’s getting about time, to hold certain people & institutions accountable for their actions, all-the-way. )

    “How to Lose What we Have”

  • Cotour

    It should be illegal for an American company to develop and facilitate such information and systems for dystopian regimes engaged in the monitoring of and limiting the freedom of their citizens. This should include phones, autos, refrigerator’s and anything else it can be demonstrated being used by such regimes to oppress and control its citizens.

    Apple, Google, Facebook and all the rest are all complicit in the development of systems that threaten all our freedoms in the chase for the dollar bill. In time the people will certainly become a function of the government and not the other way around.

  • Cotour: Why is the first instinct of everyone to demand government supervision for every problem? It infuriates me.

    You will notice I did not do so. Instead, I called for a higher morality from the companies and their managers, and if that failed, for their customers to demand better.

    Government enforcement will accomplish nothing. A free society requires conscious but freely chosen good behavior by its citizenry. If we don’t demand this, we will lose our society, no matter what government does.

  • Cotour

    WE, need to demand such actions from OUR own government to confront such overt threats to freedom.

    I do not disagree with the ideal of your thinking, but it is not happening because the drive for profits usurps those higher ideals. And we have being fashioned what we see being fashioned in real time in China, our natural enemy both military and economic.

    OUR government needs to at some level become a tool of the people who empower it to secure OUR freedom’s.

    Government in this case is a tool of the American people to do so. If not we sit helpless watching as the camps are built and populated by those who will not comply.

    Your thinking might be a bit too pure in this case based on the evidence.

  • Andrew_W

    Wayne: “. . my auto insurer is constantly offering me a (lousy 10%) discount on my car insurance if I attach their monitoring-device to my car, so it can spy on me.”

    Wow, if I’d have guessed I would have said that the reason for the discount was that the device increased the chances of the vehicle being recovered were it to be stolen, but thumbs up to your insurance company for their honesty about wanting to spy on you.

  • Cotour: Your solution turns you into the monster you despise.

  • Cotour

    Q: Why have you not posted anything on this developing Chinese system?

    They now have reeducation camps filled with millions, and they also have “Black” camps, where you check in, but you do not check out.

    This is now, today, and in 2020 if your score is not up to snuff you will be controlled, much like a Brave New World.

    Do you see any Americans up in arms and refusing to buy Apple products or refuse to use Google who no doubt must be participating at some level with the Chinese government in order to correct the Chinese and their grand plan? I do not.

    Allen Greespan also had high hopes for the banking industry that they would “self regulate”. How did that ideal work out?

  • Kirk

    Andrew_W, if wayne is referring to Progressive’s Snapshot program, then no, it is not primarily about recovering stolen cars, but is specifically about monitoring your driving (how much you drive and how your drive) and setting your insurance rate accordingly.


    Snapshot is a program that personalizes your rate based on your ACTUAL driving. It’s technically called usage-based insurance. That means you pay based on how and how much you drive instead of just traditional factors. It’s simple. Drive safe and save. Drive extra safe and save even more. There are still other pricing factors, and your rate may increase with high-risk driving. But you’re in control of what you pay for car insurance, and most drivers earn a discount. In fact, Snapshot rewards the average driver with a $130 discount.* Plus, you’ll get an automatic discount just for signing up.

  • Cotour: The Chinese social ranking system is beyond odious. However, it is not in the U.S. I focus on what my country and its culture is doing.

    That said, I have appreciated you linking stories about it in your comments.

  • Andrew _W

    Thanks for the clarification Kirk.

  • Cotour

    I see it as an inevitable and will be coming to America, especially if Trump is not long term successful. Either way the Chinese and their plans for the world are not to be trifled about or isolated.

    In the long term they may still be the dominant power that will with ease control and dominate the “Globalism” that the left seems driven to embrace and become immersed in.

    I think it mistake to see China or any real political power player in todays world in an isolated manner. Its all going to be one in time and that one is best dominated by us rather than them. And I have grave concerns about us and how technology will come to create exactly what is going on in China today. ”

    “Alexa, turn on the dinning room lights”.


    We had a similar tattletale for the first 6 months of our Nationwide car insurance policy. When I logged on, Nationwide said “ooh, you’ll see a 20-30% reduction in insurance cost, based on your driving”. When the policy was renewed, the price went up slightly. When I called for an explanation, they said “oh, prices went up in general”.

    So I’m skeptical anything good will actually come from Progressive’s offering.

  • Cotour

    “Alexa, I asked for the dinning room lights to be turned on”.

    “Im sorry, (Cotour, Wayne, Phill O, Commodude, Blain, EMC2750F’, Zman etc.) your social credit account is in deficit, you do not have enough social credits due to your comments on the internet and the conversations in your dinning room over the last week to have lights this evening. Good night”.

    “Alexa, turn the heat up to 72 degrees”.

    “Alexa?”, “Alexa?!”

  • D Ray


  • Jwing

    We don’t need to worry about loosing our constitutional rights of freedom of speech and privacy by an ever growing authoritarian government;……….Every time we don’t read the terms and conditions of the software and devices we purchase and install for our high-tech lifestyles, but simply click “agree”, we forfeit our rights ourselves.
    Google, Facebook, Twitter, et al, are monopolies…’s time to make them transparent and more accountable to their customers.

  • wayne

    I have State Farm Insurance. (Would you ever guess that I’d buy insurance from “Progressive?” I know it’s hard to escape Warren Buffet, but I try as much as possible.) (I like the Gecko, but I hate everything else connected to them.)
    What they want, is to monitor my real-time telemetry, but they don’t want to pay me enough, to do so.

    tangentially– am I the only one who uses a prepaid TracFone?

    Tangent– is anyone concerned we STILL spend $2 billion a year for 30 million Medicaid/Snap participants to have free cell-phones?
    (Thanks a lot, McConnel & Ryan.)(My Client’s have better phones than I do.)

    Pivoting— So, when are the republicans going to get rid of socialized medicine?
    Hint– the answer is Never. They are completely on board. (We haven’t had Budget Hearing’s in Congress, since the Bush Administration.)

  • wayne

    Open the Pod bay doors, HAL

  • commodude

    There’s no Alexa interface for a woodstove…..nor is Alexa, nest ring, or any of the other electronic spies going to be allowed in my house.

    As to EULAs, it’s long past time they were simplified and mandated to be in plain English.

  • wayne: I use a prepaid TracFone. I essentially use it only when I travel, in case of delays and also to call my wife in the cell phone lot to pick me up. Costs me about $45 per year, total.

  • Edward

    Although the following Space News commentary discusses reasons for having a Space Force, it concentrates on the Chinese government’s (more correctly the PLA’s) strategy for its space warfare operations.

    for the PLA, it is about information—how to ensure the PLA gets it, as well as how to ensure that an adversary does not.

    The above quote from the article explains why the Chinese are collecting all the information that they can, even automobile information.

    In addition:

    the “three warfares” of legal warfare, public opinion warfare, and psychological warfare, underscores the Chinese view that information-space is a strategic as well as operational and tactical domain. The PLASSF [PLA’s Strategic Support Force] might be better termed China’s Information Warfare Force.

    As commodude almost noted, who needs human spies when electronic spies are virtually everywhere — and installed by the victims themselves, those who are being spied upon?

  • My personal auto insurance (the woman in white) offers a discount for tracking that I have not taken advantage of. Oregon did have a tracking program a few years ago; it was massively unpopular. I called the State and was told that the devices were not GPS-accurate: they only worked inside the state borders, so Oregon would (they say) only know if you were in the state. Color me skeptical.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *