In a shocking revelation, it has been found that some Tesla employees shared private and sensitive videos of customers without their knowledge or consent. According to nine former Tesla workers, hundreds, if not thousands, of video clips from customers’ cars were regularly viewed by staff from 2019 through the middle of 2022, and maybe even longer.
Former Tesla Workers Reveal Common Practice of Sharing Private Videos
The employees said that they could see inside people’s garages and their private properties, which included videos of people and their family members in embarrassing, compromising, and even dangerous situations. These videos included naked car owners, people tripping and falling, people driving badly, crashes, collisions, road rage incidents, and even someone being dragged into a car seemingly against their will. One video even showed a child on a bike being hit by a car.
The Juicier the Content, the More the Videos were Shared
The videos were commonly made into screenshots and memes, marked up with added annotations, recreated in slow-motion, and would continuously circulate through Tesla’s in-house messaging platform by way of private chats, emails, or in small groups. The more entertaining the video, the more it was shared among employees, and those who shared the most gained notoriety for being funny.
Videos Used for Teaching Tesla’s AI
Although Tesla managers would occasionally cite company privacy policies and crack down on the sharing, more often than not, they would look the other way. Tesla employees who were granted access to this kind of footage were known as “labelers,” whose job was to identify different objects in pictures and videos to help teach the car’s AI how to respond in different driving situations. Some labelers were required to view and identify items inside people’s garages to help the cars learn how to back out safely when in Tesla’s Autopilot feature.
Tesla’s Camera System and Sentry Mode
The cameras in Tesla vehicles provide views up to 273 yards in any direction, almost the length of three NFL football fields, and are equipped with a live view feature called “Sentry Mode,” which allows owners to connect their car cameras up to a mobile phone app to view surroundings at any time. In February, the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) concluded an investigation of Tesla over possible privacy violations.
Tesla’s Customer Privacy Notice
Tesla states on its website that recordings made by vehicle cameras “remain anonymous and are not linked to you or your vehicle.” However, the company’s customer privacy notice states that “your vehicle may collect the data and make it available to Tesla for analysis. This analysis helps Tesla improve its products, features, and diagnose problems quicker,” which includes “short video clips or images.”
Conclusion: Tesla Needs to Take Immediate Action to Protect Customer Privacy
In conclusion, the sharing of sensitive footage recorded on customers’ car cameras by Tesla employees is a serious breach of privacy, and the company needs to take immediate action to prevent such incidents from happening again. It is the responsibility of every company to safeguard its customers’ data and privacy, and Tesla is no exception. It is high time for Tesla to ensure that its employees follow strict guidelines to protect customer privacy and to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.