Tesla avoids fines from Dutch watchdog after Sentry Mode camera changes

Image Credit: The Kilowatts/Twitter

Tesla will not be fined by the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) over its vehicles’ Sentry Mode feature, which triggered potential privacy violation concerns. The electric vehicle maker was able to avoid fines from the watchdog by making changes to the feature. 

Tesla’s Sentry Mode is one of the company’s most notable security-related functions. Launched in 2019 partly in response to a string of break-ins in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sentry Mode allows Teslas to record footage from their cameras. Over the years, Sentry Mode has helped authorities solve numerous cases, from vandalism to criminal acts. 

But as per the DPA, the footage gathered by Sentry Mode could be a potential privacy violation. An investigation into the matter was later initiated. DPA board member Katja Mur shared the agency’s concerns about the Tesla security feature in a comment to Reuters

“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,” the DPA board member said. 

The DPA noted that Tesla implemented some changes to Sentry Mode in response to the agency’s concerns and investigation. Since the watchdog’s investigation began, Tesla has made refinements to the security feature. These included vehicles flashing their headlights to indicate that footage is being recorded, as well as the feature requiring approval from owners so that filming could start. Sentry Mode footage would only be stored in vehicles as well.

With these adjustments, the DPA noted that vehicle owners, not Tesla, would be legally responsible for improper filming. The changes also resulted in Tesla not receiving a fine from the watchdog. “The DPA’s investigation has not resulted in a fine or other sanction for Tesla,” the agency noted. 

Tesla has not issued a comment about the matter as of writing. 

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Tesla avoids fines from Dutch watchdog after Sentry Mode camera changes
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