Tesla to warn of data privacy risk from car security cameras in Germany


BERLIN, April 4 (Reuters) – Tesla (TSLA.O) will warn that its ‘sentry mode’, which records a car’s surroundings, risks infringing data privacy laws in Germany after consumer group vzbv sued the manufacturer for failing to mention this in advertising.

The case is the latest in a series of disputes in countries from China to the Netherlands over the cameras in Tesla cars, which the company says are to protect from theft or vandalism but authorities worry lead to filming without consent.

The vzbv lawsuit filed last July alleged that the carmaker was misleading consumers by not informing them in advertising that the driver could be violating data protection regulation if the feature was used in public spaces and filmed passers-by without their knowledge.

After a hearing on the case in Berlin, the company issued a cease-and-desist declaration stating it would no longer advertise that way, according to a statement by vzbv.

Tesla could not immediately be reached for comment.

The carmaker’s manual for buyers in the U.S. states that “it is your sole responsibility to consult and comply with all local regulations and property restrictions regarding the use of cameras.”

A spokesperson for Berlin’s data protection agency said that the person driving the car is responsible for turning off the cameras in public spaces. Responsibility would extend to the company if images were transmitted to and stored by Tesla, the spokesperson added.

The personal data watchdog in the Netherlands drew a similar conclusion in February, attributing responsibility for filming to the driver.

Reporting by Victoria Waldersee, Editing by Rachel More, Alexandra Hudson