After Tesla deal, Shanghai to speed up cancellation of foreign ownership limits

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Shanghai will accelerate efforts to cancel restrictions on foreign investment in the auto manufacturing sector, a government official said on Wednesday, a day after Tesla (TSLA.O) said it would build a wholly owned auto plant in the city.

FILE PHOTO: A woman sits in a Tesla Model 3 car during a media preview at the Auto China 2018 motor show in Beijing, China April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

Earlier this year, China said it would scrap foreign ownership caps for companies making fully electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2018 and all automotive ventures by 2022. The announcement marked a major policy shift in the world’s top car market that has capped foreign ownership in the sector at 50 percent for over two decades.

Huang Ou, deputy director of the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology, told reporters at a press conference that the city government was engaged in preparations to support the Tesla project, set to be Shanghai’s biggest foreign-invested project.

“The next step is for the city government to do the support work to allow the project to go into operation as quickly as possible,” he said.

“In line with state plans, we will speed up the cancellation of foreign ownership restrictions in the car manufacturing sector,” he said.

Huang declined to comment, however, on the size of the project or when the construction of a plant with capacity to produce 500,000 Tesla battery electric cars a year – large by auto industry standards – would start.

Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk landed a deal on Tuesday to build a new and wholly owned auto plant in Shanghai, the company’s first factory outside the United States. It would double the size of the electric car maker’s global manufacturing.

The deal was announced as Tesla raised prices on U.S.-made vehicles it sells in China to offset the cost of tariffs imposed by the Chinese government on U.S. imports in retaliation for U.S. President Donald Trump’s heavier duties on Chinese goods.

An auto assembly plant half the size of the envisioned Tesla Shanghai plant would normally cost $1 billion to build, according to automotive industry officials and experts.

The Shanghai government said in a statement on Tuesday it welcomed Tesla’s move to invest not only in a new factory in the city but in research and development.

Chinese magazine Caijing, citing sources close to the project, reported on Tuesday that the plant’s exact location had not been decided and construction would start early next year.

Reporting by David Stanway; Writing by Brenda Goh and Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Neil Fullick

Lawmakers Push Apple and Google to Reveal Data Collection Practices

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee want Google and Apple to explain more about how they handle user data.

The lawmakers sent letters on Monday to Apple (aapl) CEO Tim Cook and Larry Page, CEO of Google parent Alphabet (goog), asking the tech giants to explain their data collection practices.

Recent data privacy blunders by Facebook (fb) as well as alleged Russian meddling of the 2016 presidential election has raised concerns by politicians that tech companies fail to safeguard user data.

Additionally, lawmakers worry that these companies are not transparent about how they share user data with third-party firms as they collect people’s data to improve their own technologies and grow their businesses.

In the letter sent to Alphabet’s Page, the lawmakers asked that the company address recent media reports that exposed some of Alphabet’s data practices. Last week, for example, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google allows some third-party organizations to access user emails. Google said in 2017 that the company would no longer scan Gmail messages for advertising purposes.

Some of the questions lawmakers want Google to answer about its email policies include:

How many outside software developers, or third parties, are permitted to access user’s email contents with or without consent on Gmail?

What restrictions, if any, does Google place on how data from Gmail users may be used?

What additional steps, if any, are taken by Google to verify that the activity of companies granted access to user’s email contents meets Google’s terms of service?

In their letter to Apple’s CEO, the lawmakers want to know more about the company’s data-collection practices related to its flagship iPhone. The House representatives want to know if Apple collects and stores user information “through a different data-collection capability” even if people disable location-tracking services on their iPhones.

Lawmakers also want to know if people’s iPhones collect audio recordings without their consent and if Apple could “control or limit the data collected by third-party apps available on the App store.”

The House members also point to Cook’s various public comments about Apple’s data privacy practices in relation to competitors like Google and Facebook. They referred to Cook recently saying that Apple “felt strongly about privacy when no one cared,” but then pointed out that Apple lets users download Google and Facebook apps from its online store, which is significant because these services and others are “contradictory to Apple’s values.”

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The implication that Apple should bar Google and Facebook apps from its online store is a sensitive one. Some lawmakers would likely accuse Apple of unfair business practices if it removed competitors from its app store.

Fortune contacted Apple and Google for comment and will update this story if they respond.