Tesla escapes fine after official Sentinel mode investigation

The Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP) has decided not to impose fines on Tesla following its investigation into Sentinel Mode cameras. As a reminder, the institution had considered that these cameras could infringe the laws on the protection of privacy.

tesla fashion sentinel
Credit: 123RF

Since 2020, owners of Tesla vehicles can enjoy an exclusive feature: Sentinel Mode. This tool uses the vehicle’s various cameras to monitor suspicious activity around your Tesla when parked and locked.

As soon as suspicious movements are detected, the cameras start recording, while the alarm system is activated. parallel, the user receives a notification to warn him of the incident. As of October 2021, Sentinel mode has gained an additional feature. Through Sentinel mode Live camera accessusers can directly access video feeds from the cameras on their smartphone.

Sentinel Mode and pedestrian rights concerns

Since the launch of Sentinel Mode, several government agencies have determined that this feature may violate local data protection laws. For example, in 2021, Switzerland recommended that users deactivate Sentinel mode, so as not to risk breaking data protection laws. That has indeed been proven some recordings were sometimes sent to Tesla for analysiswhich is not permitted under Swiss law.

The Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP) in turn had launched similar investigations into the Sentinel mode. And that’s exactly what we just found out the Dutch Data Protection Authority has chosen not to fine Tesla. Here too, the organization had stated that Sentinel mode could exist a violation of the image rights of pedestrians filmed without their knowledge.

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tesla fashion sentinel
Credits: Electrek

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No penalty for Tesla after this Sentinel Mode investigation

Many Teslas parked on the street would often film anyone approaching the vehicle, and this footage was kept for a very long time. If all cars could do this, we would have a situation where no one can go anywhere in public without being watched.” said Katja Mur, member of the board of directors of DPA to our colleagues from Reuters.

As a result of this research, Tesla has decided to make some changes to Sentinel mode. First of all, it is indicated on the Tesla site stored files are end-to-end encrypted and that she cannot consult them. In addition, the car’s headlights are now used to warn passers-by that recording has started.

Finally and this is the most important pointTesla owners are now held criminally liable when using Sentinel mode. Their approval is also required when a recording begins. “It is your responsibility to check and comply with all local laws and applicable site restrictions regarding the use of cameras.” writes the manufacturer on its official website. Faced with these changes, the DPA chose to drop the potential charges against Tesla.

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