Posted Jul 22, 2022, 5:37 PM
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.
Discover: Sentinel Mode
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 BZ unveiled an internal circular from the security department of the German judicial police and distributed 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.
It also recalls that “people must know that they have been filmed by the vehicle and for what reasons” and that “the people concerned must also be able to exercise their rights (in particular, the right of access and right of opposition). Two conditions which the car manufacturer does not meet, for the moment, in the implementation of its monitoring function.