Surprise Tesla Feature: Your Personal Car Videos Can Go Viral Around Their Offices. Cool, Right?
A damning and shocking, yet utterly unsurprising, report from Reuters about the lack of respect for their users’ privacy held by Tesla employees:
But between 2019 and 2022, groups of Tesla employees privately shared via an internal messaging system sometimes highly invasive videos and images recorded by customers’ carcameras, according to interviews by Reuters with nine former employees. […]
Also shared: crashes and road-rage incidents. One crash video in 2021 showed a Tesla driving at high speed in a residential area hitting a child riding a bike, according to another ex-employee. The child flew in one direction, the bike in another. The video spread around a Tesla office in San Mateo, California, via private one-on-one chats, “like wildfire,” the ex-employee said.
Still, the videos and images were certainly anonymous, so how bad is it, really?
Tesla states in its online “Customer Privacy Notice” that its “camera recordings remain anonymous and are not linked to you or your vehicle.” But seven former employees told Reuters the computer program they used at work could show the location of recordings — which potentially could reveal where a Tesla owner lived.
But, wait, there’s more.
According to several ex-employees, some labelers shared screenshots, sometimes marked up using Adobe Photoshop, in private group chats on Mattermost, Tesla’s internal messaging system. There they would attract responses from other workers and managers. Participants would also add their own marked-up images, jokes or emojis to keep the conversation going. Some of the emojis were custom-created to reference office inside jokes, several ex-employees said.
Maybe allowing Tesla unfettered access to the myriad of cameras on your computer car isn’t such a great idea.
(To be clear, even if it was all completely anonymized, the memeifying and blatant misuse of customer data would still be appalling.)
These folks had agreed to share their data and recordings with Tesla, but I can’t imagine any of them had this kind of access and sharing in mind when they checked that box. Not to mention the other people in and around the vehicle who made no such agreement, but were still had their recordings accessed by Tesla.
Here’s the kicker:
One of the perks of working for Tesla as a data labeler in San Mateo was the chance to win a prize — use of a company car for a day or two, according to two former employees.
But some of the lucky winners became paranoid when driving the electric cars.
“Knowing how much data those vehicles are capable of collecting definitely made folks nervous,” one ex-employee said.
I used to covet the idea of owning a Tesla. Not so much these days.
If you want to get even more angry about this whole situation, be sure to read the rest of the bombshell report by Steve Stecklow, Waylon Cunningham, and Hyunjoo Jin.