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German Consumer Group Sues Tesla Over Privacy, Climate

A German consumer group on Tuesday said it had sued US electric vehicles manufacturer Tesla over data privacy concerns and claims that buying its cars reduces emissions.

The VZBV said in a statement it had "filed a lawsuit at the Berlin state court against Tesla", accusing the carmaker of "misleading climate statements and lacking information" related to the vehicles' surveillance cameras.

Tesla customers were not informed that the use of sentry mode, where cameras monitor the car's surroundings, clashed with European data privacy laws, the VZBV said.

Users of the function "would need to obtain consent for the processing of personal data from passers-by who happened to walk past the car", said Heiko Duenkel, head of litigation at the VZBV.

As such, conforming with data protection regulations while using the function was "practically impossible", with drivers "risking fines", Duenkel said.

The approval of the surveillance system showed "gaps in the approval procedures for automated driving functions" in Germany, said Marion Jungbluth, head of mobility at the VZBV.

Transport and data regulators should "strengthen their cooperation", she said.

Tesla also misled clients with adverts that vaunted the climate benefits of buying one of its autos, the VZBV said.

The US manufacturer's sale of "emissions credits" to rival companies meant that other carmakers could "emit more", a fact which was not made clear to buyers, the consumer group said.

Tesla opened its first European factory outside Berlin earlier this year after overcoming a series of legal challenges brought by local residents and environmental groups.

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