personal data problem

A former Swiss elected official who crashed into a Tesla in a parking lot was denounced thanks to the on-board camera, the famous “dashcam”. Except that these cameras are not supposed to be able to film public spaces.

This is a new scenario that arises for on-board vehicle cameras. And in particular those of Tesla, capable of filming at any time, including when stationary, engine stopped, parked. The story is innocuous, but it illustrates how respecting privacy on public roads could lead to complex situations. in the years to come if most of the cars of the future are equipped with these cameras.

A simple clash leads to a denunciation

During the month of June, the former Swiss elected Francine Jeanprêtre stops on the motorway service area near Martigny, in Valais. His companion then opens the door and supposedly hit the vehicle next door. A Tesla, of course. “I opened the door to get out of the car. A few days later, the Valais police indicated by telephone that my door had damaged a Tesla car parked next to us next to me. I am surprised because my gesture did not was not brutal. The door of our Skoda shows no mark or trace”, specifies the person concerned.

The Tesla “Sentinel” anti-theft system is particularly targeted. Asked by the driver of the Skoda, the data protection officer of the canton of Valais spoke on the subject. “In my view, there are two concerns: First, filming public areas without permission is not legal under Federal Court case law regarding Google Street View. Second, some of the data recorded by Tesla cars is known to be sent to the United States”.

Switzerland is the second country to point out the problem of on-board cameras after Germany. The Swiss authorities have not yet attacked the American manufacturer, which explains that it does not store data in the United States except in serious cases (accidents, attempted theft). In which case these recordings are transmitted to the competent authorities on request.

So what to do? “We therefore recommend car owners to disable this feature, at least in public spaces, to avoid the risk of breaking the law“, specifies the federal data protection authority.

Published on 07/18/2022 Updated 07/18/2022

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