Tesla and their enigmatic CEO Elon Musk have built a reputation of being on the cutting edge of innovation and delivering what the people want. But that reputation may be very far from reality if a new data leak by a company whistleblower is legitimate.
The Guardian reported on problems discovered in the 100GB of confidential data dropped by the whistleblower:
Tesla has failed to adequately protect data from customers, employees and business partners and has received thousands of customer complaints regarding the carmaker’s driver assistance system, Germany’s Handelsblatt has reported, citing 100 gigabytes of confidential data leaked by a whistleblower.
The Handelsblatt report said customer data could be found “in abundance” in a data set labelled “Tesla Files”.
The files include tables containing more than 100,000 names of former and current employees, including the social security number of the Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, along with private email addresses, phone numbers, salaries of employees, bank details of customers and secret details from production, according to Handelsblatt.
The breach would violate the GDPR, the newspaper said. The Guardian has not independently verified the documents. The data protection office in Brandenburg, which is home to Tesla’s European gigafactory, described the data leak as “massive”.
“I can’t remember such a scale,” the Brandenburg data protection officer, Dagmar Hartge, said.
If such a violation was proved, Tesla could be fined up to 4% of its annual sales, which could be €3.26bn ($3.5bn).
Citing the leaked files, the newspaper also reported about large numbers of customer complaints regarding the Tesla’s driver assistance programs, with about 4,000 complaints on sudden acceleration or phantom braking.
The German union IG Metall said the revelations were “disturbing” and called on Tesla to inform employees about all data protection violations and promote a culture in which staff could raise problems and grievances openly and without fear.
“These revelations … fit with the picture that we have gained in just under two years,” said Dirk Schulze, IG Metall incoming district manager for Berlin, Brandenburg and Saxony.
It would seem the company itself is about as reliable as their fire-prone vehicles.