US House bill would require national security reviews on connected vehicles from China

US House bill would require national security reviews on connected vehicles from China

Newly proposed Congressional legislation would require the US to conduct security reviews for connected vehicles built by automakers from China and “other countries of concern.” Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), a former CIA analyst and Pentagon official who has championed the issue, introduced the bill on Wednesday.

If passed by Congress (a tall order these days), the Connected Vehicle National Security Review Act would establish a formal review process for connected autos from Chinese companies. It would also allow the Department of Commerce to limit or ban these cars and other vehicles before they reach US consumers.

“Today’s vehicles are more sophisticated than ever, carrying cameras, radars and other sophisticated sensors, plus the ability to process, transmit and store the data they gather from the United States,” said Slotkin. “If allowed into our markets, Chinese connected vehicles offer the Chinese government a treasure trove of valuable intelligence on the United States, including the potential to collect information on our military bases, critical infrastructure like the power grid and traffic systems, and even locate specific U.S leaders should they so choose.”

Rep. Elissa Slotkin

In a speech on the House floor earlier this month, Slotkin noted that Chinese EVs, often sold much cheaper than their US and European counterparts, could quickly gain a significant share of the American market. She cited how Chinese vehicles, first sold in Europe in 2019, now make up almost a quarter of its market. The representative also recently pushed Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on the security gap.

Alternatively (and perhaps ideally), legislators could pass a comprehensive data privacy law rather than dealing with these issues piecemeal.

The bill’s introduction follows the Biden Administration’s quadrupling of import tariffs on Chinese EVs. The White House’s new EV levies grew from 25 percent to 100 percent, following China’s EV exports rising 70 percent between 2022 and 2023.

In February, the White House also ordered the Department of Commerce to investigate the risks of connected vehicles from China and other adversaries. However, that action was conducted through an executive order and could be undone by future administrations. Slotkin’s legislation would close those loopholes if it makes it through Congress — rarely a safe bet in today’s highly obstructed and contentious political environment.

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