Glass driver: Does Tesla violate data protection rules?

Glass driver: Does Tesla violate data protection rules?

Tesla plans to build 500,000 cars a year in Berlin soon. On Contrasts-Research transfers video data from cars in Germany to servers in the USA.

Chris Humbs and Marcus Weller, RBB

In the new models of the American carmaker Tesla, the cameras record what is happening inside and outside the vehicle. In addition to the driver, who can partially view and save sharp images of the surroundings, the group has access to the images – via remote access from the USA.

Tesla can access recordings from eight cameras throughout the car remotely. The owners themselves have no control over the processing of the data. The group collects telematics and image data in order to improve its autonomous management systems, but also marketing.

Tesla versus data protection

Video data captured by Tesla is processed in the vehicle by neural chips, some of which are also stored. The driver can use the cameras as an instrument camera, but also operate them in the so-called protection mode. But he could also partially deactivate it. In this state, the cameras have an overview of everything that happens around the parked car.

The Tesla algorithm decides on the start of the recording. The problem is that the camera records the environment in high definition and the videos are saved unchanged. People and, for example, license plates can be clearly identified.

The Data Protection Officer sees the breach

According to the Data Protection Officer of the Land of Baden-Württemberg, Stefan Brink, the use of this personal data is inadmissible: “If the vehicle is driven in public traffic and constantly records all others, this is a clear breach of data protection. It must not be. ”Such cameras should only be used on a case-by-case basis for a specific event, says Brink. “However, continuous shooting via vehicles is prohibited.”

The driver can view the video data and, if necessary, save and edit it elsewhere. However, only four of the external cameras are available to him. What the interior camera and four other external cameras record cannot be seen or influenced – it’s entirely in Tesla’s hands.

Data transfer is proven

When he tries ARD magazine contrasts succeeded in monitoring data transfers from Tesla to servers in the USA. It was a connection to servers on the US West Coast that sometimes took hours. Tesla used a WLAN connection, which could be monitored in the test. Unable to trace data transfers from a permanently installed LTE SIM card. What is certain, however, is that the mobile network is provided by a Dutch provider.

The content of the data transmitted via WLAN remained unclear. Tesla encrypts packages, so hacking this content would be a crime.

Tesla, data octopus

About 5,000 new Tesla Model 3 models have already been registered in Germany – 500,000 will soon leave the assembly line in the new so-called “Giga-Fabrik” in Grünheide, Brandenburg near Berlin. In this way, the built-in cameras generate a large amount of personal information.

Tesla can now evaluate images fully automatically. “The amount of data that is now accumulating is adjustable,” says Constanze Kurz of Chaos Computer Club (CCC), “we have made a big technological leap in recent years.” For carmakers, the use of data has “become the second major business model,” says Brink, a data protector.

The manufacturer is no longer just about “delivering mobile stands, but also wants to start a new business, so he wants to know exactly how the driver is behaving?” It is not for nothing that they say: “Data is a new oil.” intends to use this data to “increase the effectiveness of our advertising campaigns and the operation and expansion of our business.”

Data arouses desire

And this data is difficult. They are directed against the right to informational self-determination, explains Constanze Kurz from CCC: “When does someone work? When is someone on vacation? Is anyone maybe in the hotel every third week on Saturday? Who does he go there with? ”Someone with information about people could“ exercise power over me, ”Kurz said. “If I get in a car that can record and send countless snippets of information about me, of course I can’t exercise that right to self-determination.”

In Italy, the car insurance company has already gained access to such personal data transmitted by the manufacturer and adjusted prices. This form of monitoring is completely unacceptable throughout Europe.

European Data Protection Supervisor Wojciech Wiewiórowski warns Contrasts European regulation of the use of this data. “At the moment, there are cars that collect and transmit information about our behavior. And that’s something that’s already on the market. So we are not talking about the future. We should be clear about what is happening now. “

Powerlessness of data protectors

In Germany, data protection officers in the Länder where the company is based are responsible for monitoring producers. In the case of Tesla, responsibility could soon be transferred to the Brandenburg authorities due to the new factory. The spokesman has already warned that this would “lead to another heavy workload that would be difficult to handle in an already extremely tense staffing situation”. Politicians and data protection authorities are clearly completely overwhelmed by the phenomenon of progressive octopuses.

He asked when Tesla founder Elon Musk visited Berlin Contrasts whether car data will be broadcast live. Musk replied that it was wrong. No live broadcasts.


Mark James

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