Tesla Tweaks Onboard Cameras Following Allegations of Privacy Invasion

“Many Teslas parked on the street were often filming everyone who came near the vehicle," the Dutch watchdog wrote.

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Tesla won't receive a fine for privacy violations
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

The Dutch safety watchdog decided on Wednesday that it had concluded its investigation into Tesla and wouldn’t issue a fine against the company for its vehicle’s security cameras. The Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) carried out an investigation over concerns Tesla vehicles could be violating privacy laws with its security camera feature.

Tesla introduced cameras as a safety feature to protect owners’ cars against theft. When the vehicle is parked, the security camera will automatically turn on when it senses a threat or someone walking too close to the car.

While the feature may seem invaluable to the car owner, the Dutch watchdog said this could pose a threat to passersby who are unwillingly being recorded. The system could keep the footage for a lengthy period of time, which prompted the watchdog to issue an investigation.


“Many Teslas parked on the street were often filming everyone who came near the vehicle, and these images were being saved for a very long time. If every car were to do that, we’d have a situation where no one could go anywhere in public without being watched,” DPA board member Katja Mur said in a statement to Reuters

Tesla backtracked on how the feature is used following the DPA’s investigation by requiring the owner to approve the camera to record and alert people that the camera turned on by flashing its headlights. The agency said because of the changes to its “Sentry Mode” feature, it “has not resulted in a fine or other sanction for Tesla,” Reuters reported.


Tesla did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.

The DPA said in light of Tesla’s security camera change requiring owners to take responsibility for filming, those who retain ownership of the vehicle could be charged for improper or excessive filming. Tesla also warns owners on its website that they are liable if they breach local privacy laws.


The site says, “It is your [the owner’s] sole responsibility to consult and comply with all local regulations and property restrictions regarding the use of cameras.” The security camera feature is only available on Model Y, Model S, Model X, and Model 3 vehicles and the site says it can be disabled through the settings on the in-car touchscreen.