Tesla to gather, share drivers' video data
Tesla wants to gather drivers' video data. (AFP / Robyn Beck)
Published Tuesday, May 9, 2017 1:12PM EDT
If you're one of those people who are getting concerned about how much we're spied on with CCTV cameras, and how vulnerable our personal and financial data is to online fraud, you might want to think twice before buying a Tesla. That's because the American electric car pioneer is looking to gather video data from the onboard cameras on its cars to help improve autonomous drive features. We're not talking about test cars here though; this is video of the everyday driving of real cars in the hands of real customers.
Every motor manufacturer gathers endless amounts of data from millions of miles of vehicle testing, but nothing really beats the data gathered from everyday use by regular drivers. It therefore makes complete sense that Tesla wants to utilize the onboard cameras already being used for Autopilot systems on its cars to make the technology even better.
However, at a time when we're regularly being bombarded with news of even some of the planet's biggest tech companies being hacked, it does raise the issue of how vulnerable Tesla cars are to being hacked, especially when the company itself is looking to harvest data in this way.
Tesla is looking to assure customers that it will protect their privacy if they agree to the company downloading and using these short video clips, even though they admit the data will be shared with its partners.
A company statement says, "We want to be super clear that these short video clips are not linked to your vehicle identification number. In order to protect your privacy, we have ensured that there is no way to search our system for clips that are associated with a specific car."
If you're not happy with this data from your car being gathered and shared you can always refuse permission. But as there has already been plenty of publicity surrounding the potential for hackers to actually take control of modern connected vehicles remotely, it remains to be seen how reassured potential buyers will be by Tesla's claims for the privacy of the data.
The most recent update to Tesla's software improved a number of Autopilot features for second-generation hardware equipped models. It's now capable of doing more to brake or steer to avoid an accident, but after the download, customers were asked to give that approval for the new data sharing policy for video gathered from the car's exterior cameras and other data.