A revelation from Walter Isaacson’s biography on Elon Musk has shed light on Tesla’s approach to privacy, particularly the use of the internal monitoring camera in its vehicles. According to the book, Elon Musk wanted to utilize the camera to record video footage of drivers’ behavior behind the wheel. The purpose of this was to provide evidence to defend the company against investigations in the event of a crash.
While internal cameras in cars are commonly used to monitor driver attentiveness, Musk wanted to take it a step further. He believed that most accidents were caused by bad drivers rather than faulty software. He suggested collecting data from the internal cameras, including the one focused on the driver, to prove instances of driver error.
However, concerns about privacy were raised during a meeting where these plans were discussed. It was pointed out that Tesla would not be able to associate the recorded footage with a specific vehicle, even in the event of a crash. Musk, who was not pleased with the response, rejected the idea of privacy teams and asserted his decision-making authority within the company.
To address the privacy concerns, Musk proposed using a pop-up notification to inform users that data would be collected if they used Full Self-Driving Beta. As long as customers were aware and consented to the data collection, it was considered acceptable.
It is important to note that Tesla has not yet used the internal camera footage as evidence in lawsuits or investigations related to the Autopilot system. However, the company is currently facing a class action lawsuit over video privacy, with allegations that Tesla employees privately shared invasive videos and images recorded by customers’ car cameras.
This controversy surrounding the use of the internal monitoring camera highlights Elon Musk’s approach to privacy and raises important questions about the balance between data collection for safety purposes and protecting individuals’ privacy rights.
– Walter Isaacson’s “Elon Musk” biography