The use of cameras on Tesla vehicles has come under scrutiny after reports revealed that some employees have shared sensitive photos and videos captured by the cameras with each other over the span of several years.
Former employees told Reuters that images were shared in group chats and one-on-one communications between 2019 and last year. The report alleges that videos were shared among employees that were filmed inside the garages of Tesla owners, including a video featuring a white Lotus Esprit submersible from the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me, which Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s bought in 2013.
The sharing of this footage was a breach of privacy, and former employees admitted that they would not buy a Tesla after witnessing how the company treated customer data. Tesla has claimed that its camera system is designed to protect user privacy, and even if owners opt to share camera recordings with Tesla for “fleet learning” purposes, the recordings are supposed to remain anonymous and unlinked to specific vehicles or owners unless received due to a safety event, such as a crash or airbag deployment.
Interviews conducted with former Tesla employees have revealed that sharing private and potentially embarrassing video footage of customers captured by their own cars without their consent was quite common.
Employees reported that hundreds, if not thousands, of private video clips from customers’ Tesla cars, were regularly viewed by staff from 2019 through the middle of 2022, and possibly longer.
While some of the videos were harmless, others exposed Tesla owners and their loved ones in humiliating, compromising, and even hazardous situations. Some employees claimed they had to watch the footage to recognize objects in people’s garages, which would assist the cars in safely reversing while using Tesla’s Autopilot feature.
One former employee stated, “There was just definitely a lot of stuff that like, I wouldn’t want anybody to see about my life.”
Former Tesla workers recounted videos showing various incidents such as naked car owners, individuals stumbling and falling, reckless driving, accidents, confrontations on the road, and even a scene where someone appeared to be forcibly taken into a vehicle.
Former Tesla employees have disclosed that videos depicting disturbing and shocking incidents, including a child being hit by a car while riding a bike, were shared among employees as entertainment.
These videos were often edited with annotations, slowed down, and transformed into memes, and were constantly circulated through Tesla’s internal messaging system in private chats, emails, or small groups.
According to the former Tesla employees, the company’s managers occasionally enforced privacy policies and prohibited the sharing of videos, but they mostly chose to ignore it.
The sharing of this footage has raised concerns about the privacy of Tesla owners and the potential misuse of data captured by the cameras. Owners may be worried that their personal information could be at risk of being shared with others or used for unintended purposes.
Additionally, the sharing of this footage could have legal consequences for Tesla, as it may be a violation of privacy laws. As of now, Tesla has not responded to the allegations.
It is crucial for companies to prioritize the privacy of their customers and ensure that their data is protected. While the use of cameras in cars is becoming increasingly common, it is essential for companies to ensure that these cameras are not being misused to violate people’s privacy.
Customers should be aware of the risks involved in using cameras in their cars and take steps to protect their privacy, such as being cautious about what they share with the manufacturer or disabling the cameras altogether if they are not comfortable with them.
Companies like Tesla must also take steps to ensure that their employees are properly trained on privacy and data protection policies and respect the data made available to them.