Tesla Inc.'s use of in-car cameras to record and transmit video footage of passengers to develop self-driving technology raises safety and privacy concerns, Consumer Reports said on Tuesday.
The consumer advocacy organization said on its website that the usage potentially undermines the safety benefits of driver monitoring, which is to alert drivers when they are not paying attention to the road.
"If Tesla has the ability to determine if the driver isn't paying attention, it needs to warn the driver in the moment, like other automakers already do," said Jake Fisher, senior director of Consumer Reports' auto test center. The camera "has the potential of really helping driving safety and alerting you if you're distracted. It could absolutely save lives," he said.
Automakers such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, whose monitoring systems do not record or transmit data or video, use infrared technology to identify drivers' eye movements or head position to warn them if they are exhibiting signs of impairment or distraction, the organization said.
Last week, the Palo Alto, Calif., EV maker said it studies some footage recorded from these cameras after the fact as part of its research into autonomous driving technology.
"There's a huge amount of information these vehicles know about you and now [they can] even see you, as well as record videos," Fisher said. "So that absolutely brings privacy concerns."
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The automaker's internal cameras are also a point of contention in China, where the military banned Tesla cars from entering its complexes, citing security concerns.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said last week his company would be shut down if its cars were used to spy.
Reuters and C.J. Moore of Automotive News contributed to this report.