According to Reuters, Tesla employees were able to access video footage from the cameras built into Teslas to assist in driving. They shared those videos and images in an internal company messaging system, often to mock customers.
This information was supplied to Reuters by nine ex-Tesla employees, some of whom said that they could even access footage from the cameras when the Teslas were parked in a garage and ostensibly turned off. This allowed the employees to essentially see inside customers’ homes without consent.
“We could see inside people’s garages and their private properties,” one ex-employee told Reuters. “Let’s say that a Tesla customer had something in their garage that was distinctive, you know, people would post those kinds of things.”
“I saw some scandalous stuff sometimes, you know, like, I did see scenes of intimacy but not nudity,” claimed another ex-employee. “And there was just definitely a lot of stuff that, like, I wouldn’t want anybody to see about my life.”
Perhaps even more disturbing, employees allegedly shared video footage from accidents, including one where a Tesla driver hit a child on a bicycle.
Even Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk was not immune, as employees shared footage of the inside of his garage, where he had parked a prop from a James Bond movie for which he had paid $968,000 in 2013, according to Reuters.
Why Is This Concerning?
The allegations made by former Tesla employees are a clear violation of customers’ privacy rights and in direct contradiction to how Tesla itself explains the built-in cameras, which it says are “designed from the ground up to protect your privacy.”
In a broader sense, although Tesla certainly deserves some credit for helping to popularize electric vehicles (EVs) around the world, this is just the latest in a long list of questionable business practices that have made the company the subject of controversy.
What Is Being Done?
Tesla did not respond to questions from Reuters about the report and is likely hoping that this controversy, like many before it, will blow over.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which enforces federal laws concerning customer privacy, would be the appropriate agency to intervene, but it also refused to comment. It is not known at this time whether the FTC will open an investigation.
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