In Germany, Tesla Cameras Are In The Sights Of Data Protection Defenders
Jul 23,2022 | Chloe Lacour
The video surveillance system of Tesla cars is targeted in Germany by a consumer association as well as by the police, who point to a violation of data protection rules. In France, the CNIL warns of non-compliance with data protection rules.
It is one of the flagship functions of Tesla cars that is questioned in Germany: the “Sentinel” mode. A function that does not please the VZBV, the main German consumer association, which has just “brought legal action against Tesla in the Berlin court”, she said in a press release.
She accuses Elon Musk's automaker of failing to mention that its customers are bound by the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation when using "Sentinel" mode and risk a fine for breaching it.
The function developed by Tesla makes it possible to use the eight cameras present on its high-tech vehicles to monitor the surroundings of the car at 360° when it is parked. The gadget must make it possible to avoid damage or intrusions into the passenger compartment.
German police on guard
The consumer association is not the only one across the Rhine to worry about this function. Last June, the Berlin newspaper B.Z. revealed an internal circular from the security department of the German judicial police and distributed it within the services. The e-mail alerts to the possibility of recording Teslas: "These recordings are permanently stored on Tesla servers located abroad (Netherlands)", specifies the e-mail, referring to a report broadcast on television public. On its site, Tesla nevertheless assures that “no Sentinel mode recording is transmitted to Tesla”.
Fearing security and data protection issues, access for Tesla vehicles has been banned from certain buildings of the institution, such as the police headquarters and the premises of the judicial police. The Berlin police quickly returned to the measure, indicating that it was "not yet effective" but still in the reflection phase.
In France, the CNIL warns
Available for several years already in the United States, the function took time before arriving in Europe, where it took its first steps only a few months ago in certain countries. If on this side of the Rhine, no complaint on the function has yet been filed, the CNIL, which ensures the protection of personal data and individual freedoms in France, claims to be "aware of the existence of these devices and the risks they may involve”.
However, it has not yet taken any specific position on the subject, but recalls that the device must comply with European legislation on the protection of personal data (RGPD): "The device cannot be put implemented only if there are no less intrusive means to achieve the same objectives", says the institution.