Privacy concerns after some Tesla employees allegedly shared sensitive customer videos: report

ByGio Benitez ABCNews logo
Monday, April 10, 2023
Privacy concerns after group of Tesla employees shared sensitive customer videos internally: report
Tesla is facing a lawsuit after a car owner filed a complaint accusing the company of allegedly violating California's privacy laws.

Tesla is facing a lawsuit in California after a car owner filed a complaint accusing the company of allegedly violating the state's privacy laws, among other claims.

The potential class action lawsuit alleges that between 2019 and 2022, by virtue of this defective system, Tesla employees accessed and circulated recordings of Tesla customers in private and embarrassing situations, without their consent.

"It's not okay for Tesla to be using that information in ways that it's promised not to use," said Jack Fitzgerald, the lawyer bringing the lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed Friday comes after a Reuters report published Thursday in which a small group of former Tesla employees, who are nameless, said they internally shared private photos and videos captured by Tesla car cameras without customers' consent.

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"To relieve boredom, a lot of these data labelers would share these videos with each other," said Steve Stecklow, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter with Reuters.

Reuters said in its report that it wasn't able to obtain any of the shared material that the ex-employees claimed to have and the ex-employees said they hadn't saved the alleged materials. Examples of the shared materials mentioned in the lawsuit were also referenced without evidence and the lawsuit does not allege the plaintiff's Tesla's camera was accessed.

"He didn't consent to, you know, images of his family being available to Tesla employees to circulate around the office or to comment on. Nobody consented to that," Fitzgerald said.

Tesla did not immediately respond to ABC's request for comment.

However, earlier this year, Tesla released a detailed look at their privacy practices, which included explaining when the cameras are enabled and how information is stored.

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"The cameras will only record if you opt in and the recordings are saved on your vehicle, not on Tesla's servers," the company had said.

Tesla also said recording preferences can be updated at any time

Tesla's customer privacy notice states that unless we receive the data as a result of a safety event (a vehicle collision or airbag deployment), camera recordings remain anonymous and are not linked to you or your vehicle.

"That's one of the tradeoffs that people have to consider when they're getting a car that has one of these experimental features like autopilot or self-driving," said Caroline Haskins, data privacy expert and research editor at Insider.

A judge still has to review and declare it a proper class action lawsuit.