The Chinese government is famously good at internal security, and this may be one reason why: spying devices are allegedly hidden in thousands of vehicles.

Is There a Spying Device in Your Car?

Alleged Chinese spying device.

The devices, about the size of a PDA and apparently equipped to record conversations, were first installed as “inspection and quarantine cards” in July 2007 without charge by the Shenzhen Inspection and Quarantine Bureau. They seem to have been placed specifically on dual-plate Chinese-Hong Kong vehicles.

Smugglers were among the first to catch on. One of them told the Apple Daily Newspaper (as translated by the Epoch Times):

“For every ten cars we ran we only had [smuggled goods] in three or four to reduce the risk, but the border agents caught all of them. The accuracy was unreal!”

Before shrugging this off as just another police state intrusion in a far away land, you may want to take a look around your own car for a different kind of surveillance device called the EDR, or Event Data Recorder.

Is There a Spying Device in Your Car?

An example of an EDR.

In general, the EDRs you will find on American cars do not have the remote, bluetooth collection capabilities alleged of the Chinese device above, and the data is considered property of the owner. But  the trend in this country is moving towards more data collection from your vehicle, and more access to it for the authorities. Some would consider this cause for concern.

For years, the EDR has been the deciding factor in a number of criminal accident investigations. And the National Highway Transportation Safety Association is deciding this year whether all cars must have EDRs.

If that happens, your days of going 80 mph with the top-down on the open road are numbered. And who knows, in the future it might be best to keep your voice down when you complain about it.