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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Cars are increasingly equipped with cameras to monitor driver behavior, but Tesla's use of the technology raises safety and privacy questions, Consumer Reports writes.

Why it matters: Driver monitoring systems help ensure motorists are paying attention to the road when using automated features that don't require their hands on the wheel.

How it works: Most of these systems use infrared cameras to track the driver's head position or eye movements.

  • If the system detects the driver is not engaged, it'll issue a warning — flashing lights or a vibrating steering wheel, for example — to get them to pay attention. Failure to do so will bring the car to a safe stop.
  • GM, Ford, BMW and Subaru told CR their closed-loop systems do not record, save, or transmit any data or video.

Tesla, on the other hand, is recording and transmitting video footage of occupants to help engineers further develop its self-driving technology, according to CR.

  • What's worse, the automaker is not using the in-car cameras to keep passengers safe, CR's auto expert Jake Fisher tells Axios.
  • "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," he said.

Catch up fast: Tesla has been letting certain customers beta-test its latest "full-self-driving" technology on city streets. That has led to a bunch of hair-raising videos on social media, some showing near collisions.

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded on Twitter that the automaker would ban drivers from participating in its beta tests if video footage from inside the car shows they aren't paying attention.

Of note: Tesla's in-car camera is turned off by default, but owners have the option to activate it.

  • If they do, Tesla advises them it will capture and share video clips to help the company “develop future safety features and software enhancements.”

That raises a host of privacy concerns, John Davisson, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), told CR.

  • "Any time video is being recorded, it can be accessed later," including by police, insurance companies, regulators and bad actors, Davisson said.
  • Tesla didn't respond to Consumer Reports or Axios.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Elon Musk's bet on bitcoin as payment

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Maja Hitij/Getty Images

The short list of what you can buy with bitcoin is about to get a tad longer, courtesy of Elon Musk.

Why it matters: Musk is going where other companies have failed — trying to transform bitcoin from a speculative investment to a form of payment. It hasn't taken off in the decade-plus that the digital currency has been around.

Europe's energy reliance on Russia is a crucial shield for Putin

Photo: Pavel Bednyakov/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Cracks in the NATO alliance regarding sanctions for Russia should President Vladimir Putin order troops into Ukraine are in large part based on energy supply concerns.

Why it matters: Russia holds tremendous leverage over some European countries because it provides roughly 40% of Europe's natural gas supply. In Germany, this figure is greater than 50%.

Why the Fed might want to jolt the markets

Fed chair Jerome Powell at a hearing earlier this month. Photo: Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images

So far, financial markets are cooperating nicely with the Federal Reserve's efforts to restrain inflation. They're doing the Fed's work for it by creating tighter financial conditions, in a distinctly non-panicky way.

  • But as the central bank's policymakers meet this week, an underlying question they face is whether the adjustment is happening too slowly.