Tesla security cameras no longer film automatically

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A parked Tesla
NOS News

Car manufacturer Tesla has made the built-in security cameras more privacy-friendly after critical questions from the Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP). With the new settings, the security cameras that film the area around the car are not switched on automatically and the images are stored for less time.

The AP investigated Tesla’s so-called ‘Sentry Mode’. Teslas with this feature have four exterior cameras that can capture ambient images. In the old software of this function, the cameras continuously filmed everything around the parked Tesla and the images were stored for an hour. The AP saw this as a serious violation of privacy.

“Passers-by were filmed without knowing it. The owner of that Tesla could look back at those images. If he parked the car in front of someone’s window, he could peek in and see what that person was doing. It’s good that Tesla is here too looked at it critically and adjusted it,” says AP board member Katja Mur.

Filming when car is touched

Due to a software update that Tesla has performed, the security cameras are now off by default. When the car is touched, the owner receives a text message, after which he can switch on the cameras. So a Tesla owner cannot deliberately park the car somewhere to keep an eye on the surroundings from a distance.

The car manufacturer has also set the headlights to emit a light signal when filming is in progress so that passers-by know that the cameras are on. By default, the images are saved for a minute instead of an hour. The owner can increase this to a maximum of ten minutes.

The software update has been applied to all Teslas within the European Union.

“Thanks to the adjustments that Tesla has made, anyone who happens to walk by such a car is protected. Tesla also reduces the chance that Tesla drivers violate the law by illegally filming people,” the regulator concludes.

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