“Safety-related threat” from electric cars: Berlin police ban Tesla from house due to on-call duty – Berlin

© Stefan Jacobs

Alexander glad

Access ban for Teslas at Berlin’s police headquarters and the State Criminal Police Office – due to camera systems. Tesla drivers even get fines.

Electric cars roll out from Tesla’s new factory in Grünheide, just outside Berlin, but the Berlin police do not let them in. The head of security from the police headquarters and the state criminal office has now delegated this.

On Wednesday, he issued a restraining order for vehicles from the American manufacturer Tesla for “all properties in the police headquarters and the state criminal police office”.

The reason for the decision: Teslas is “a security-related threat to employees, third parties (security and data protection) and the characteristics of the Berlin police (property security)”, as stated in the internal circular from Wednesday.

Specifically, it is about data protection in the vehicles from the technology billionaire Elon Musk’s company. In early January, police were told that “all vehicle models from the manufacturer Tesla make permanent, event-independent video recordings of the entire vehicle environment and export these recordings”.

The recordings are therefore stored “permanently on Tesla servers located abroad (Netherlands)”. The drivers themselves do not find out how the data is then processed.

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They could be requested by others, Tesla alone decides whether they should be forwarded, the police security chief wrote. However, the police remain responsible for ensuring that data protection is complied with.

The head of security now ordered that the Tesla ban “should be implemented equally by all those responsible for their respective police properties as a cross-government measure”.

Director Goldack parked his Tesla in the police premises on Wednesday

When asked, however, the police press office said that the local directorates themselves must control how they handle Teslas and let the vehicles drive into their premises.

Thomas Goldack, head of Directorate 2 in the western part of the city, is also personally affected. He himself drives a Tesla, the black car is said to have been parked in his personal parking space at the police premises on Wednesday, marked with a blue parking sign that says “L Dir 2”.

The high-ranking official Goldack must now decide for himself whether his private Tesla may continue to be parked on the police premises in Directorate 2. The order of the police chief of security has so far had no consequences for Goldack.

Ammunition bunkers and camouflage markers must be protected

The Berlin police also had other proposals for handling electric cars: For example, specific routes and parking spaces with privacy protection could be specified in the police premises for officials with private Teslas.

This should prevent security areas such as ammunition bunkers, civilian cars with camouflage signs and areas with civilian investigators or special forces from being captured by Tesla’s cameras. A solution was also sought for seized Teslas, for example by covering them with tarpaulins.

[Lesen Sie auch: Boom im Berliner Umland: Durch den Tesla-Effekt werden Wohnungen und Gewerbeflächen noch knapper (T+)]

The Berlin Data Protection Authority was also involved in the case and provided information to the police. This is about the so-called guard position at Tesla. This allows owners to “capture suspicious activity around their Tesla”, according to the manufacturer.

Data protection officers threaten fines

If a significant threat is detected, “the cameras (…) start recording and the alarm system is activated”. In addition, the owner receives a notification on their mobile app. It can even display live images of the vehicle.

In standby mode, Tesla scans and films its surroundings.  Photo: Stefan Jacobs


In standby mode, Tesla scans and films its surroundings.
© Stefan Jacobs

For the data protection officer, “every vehicle owner is responsible for the guard position”, as a spokesman for the authorities told Tagesspiegel. The guard mode must not be activated continuously in parking lots for no reason and record images of the environment there.

If there are complaints about the activated on-call mode, the data protection officer will initiate a procedure and review the case. This can lead to fines for Tesla owners. Superintendent Goldack would therefore need to make sure that his car was not on duty at the police premises.

Otherwise, the police have so far even benefited from Tesla’s surveillance situation. After accidents, investigators with a forensic search could even log in to Tesla’s European data center – but also in Tesla’s internal memory.

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