In the event of a collision or other serious safety event, drivers who want to access the Full Self-Driving beta will have to submit their images and videos. According to the new warning language from the company, the drivers of the FSD are required to consent to provide the data in the event of a crash.
The message some drivers saw was that they would consent to the collection of image data from the vehicle's external cameras and Cabin Camera in the event of a serious safety risk or a collision.
The inclusion of the "VIN-associated image data" language in the front-facing camera could allow the company to link the footage with an individual driver. Gizmodo reached out to the company for comment but hasn't heard back.
Less than two weeks after the first crash involving FSD, the company has a new language. A Model Y vehicle was damaged when it turned into the wrong lane. Tesa issued a recall for 11,702 vehicles over a glitch in the software that causes vehicles to engage the brakes. The software malfunction was fixed with an over-the-air update.
The tradeoffs between driver safety and personal privacy are an emerging issue as the auto industry moves to integrate more automated features. The EV maker began rolling out in-cabin driver monitoring systems in its Model 3 and Model Y vehicles back in March after an increase in reports that the company wasn't doing enough to ensure autopilot users were keeping their hands on the steering wheel. Drivers and safety groups were able to trick the system with simple everyday objects like water bottles and tape, which made it easy for them to spoof the system.
BMW, Ford, and GM all use driver monitoring systems, but they claim to use closed-loop systems that monitor eye positions and head movements. John Davisson, legal counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told Consumer Reports that he is concerned that the cabin image data could be used by law enforcement or other groups.
When a video is being recorded, it can be accessed later. There are legal protections around who can access it and how, but it is possible that insurance companies, police, regulators, and other parties in accidents will be able to obtain that data.
Driver monitoring systems will become more common. The European New Car Assessment Programme will require a driver monitoring system in the future. The U.S. may mandate drunk driving detection technology in new cars by as early as 2026. The EU is looking into ways to detect impaired drivers.
It remains to be seen if companies will follow the data-collection route or opt for more limited alternatives. The issue of whether drivers can meaningfully consent to this type of collection could become more complicated in the U.S. where states are beginning to adopt their own data privacy laws.