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Cabin cameras built into Tesla vehicles, which are disabled by default, are not activated outside of North America, Tesla China said in a statement. This explanation is intended to provide final clarity in order to exclude any thought that the company is spying on its customers.
On April 7, Tesla China made a statement on its Weibo account. The company has made it clear that the cabin camera is not activated in vehicles outside of North America. At the same time, Tesla owners in North America can choose whether they want to turn on the camera or not. Tesla also noted that the company has world-leading security levels to protect user privacy.
"Even in the United States, car owners can freely choose whether to turn on its (the camera system's) use. Tesla is equipped with a network security system with world-leading security levels to ensure user privacy protection."
Models 3 and Y are equipped with a camera in the cabin, which is located above the rearview mirror and is disabled by default. Tesla owners in North America can activate it to shoot a short video clip in the event of an accident or an advanced emergency braking (AEB) event. These clips will be used to help Tesla engineers develop safety features and software enhancements. Cabin camera videos are not linked to VIN or any other identifying information.
This clarification was made after several Chinese media outlets reported on March 19 that the Chinese military had ordered Tesla owners not to park on their property in the future. The reason for this was the cameras built into its electric vehicles. These messages came after Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced via Twitter on March 7 that the company had revoked FSD Beta to those drivers who did not pay enough attention to the road during testing. This tweet could be interpreted as that Tesla is constantly monitoring Tesla owners, although this is completely untrue.
The fact is that the participants in FSB Beta testing, before joining the program, must accept the conditions, which probably have a clause that includes the possibility that the company can observe the testers while they drive with FSD Beta activated. This condition is absolutely adequate and corresponds to the tasks set before the company and people who wanted to become testers. However, this should not raise any doubts from other Tesla owners who are not beta testers or have not activated the cabin camera on their own.
China is important to every EV maker, and Tesla is the most valuable one. So when Musk joined the China Development Forum 2021 on March 20, he decided to respond to information about the Chinese military order. Musk said that Tesla does not use its cars for spying in China or anywhere else, because if that were the case, they would be shut down.
“There’s a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information,” Musk explained, during a virtual discussion. "If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we will get shut down." “If a commercial company did engage in spying, the negative effects to that company would be extremely bad,” he said.
© 2021, Eva Fox. All rights reserved.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.