The Chinese government now requires automakers operating to store locally-collected data inside the country, as part of what it describes as a move to strengthen its data protection regulations.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released the new guidelines at the end of last week, which have been described locally as essential to the industry’s “healthy development as vehicles become increasingly digitalised”.

The ministry confirmed in a statement “personal information and other important data collected and generated within the People’s Republic of China should be stored locally. The data must pass safety appraisals before it can be exported”.

The new rules are said to be in response to the rapid growth of the country’s smart vehicle segment. According to local reports, around 15% of passenger vehicles sold in 2020 – or some three million vehicles – had some Level 2 autonomous function using connected technologies. Smart/connected car penetration is expected to rise sharply in the country in the coming years.

In May US electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Inc announced it has established a new data center in China to store data its vehicles generate in China, after its vehicles were banned from Chinese government establishments such as military bases due to concerns that they can be used to gather data.

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