A Tesla owner in California has filed a prospective class action lawsuit against the electric carmaker, accusing it of violating the privacy of its customers. The lawsuit, filed by Henry Yeh in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, comes after Reuters reported that groups of Tesla employees had privately shared invasive videos and images recorded by customers’ car cameras through an internal messaging system between 2019 and 2022.
Yeh, who owns a Tesla Model Y and is a resident of San Francisco, alleges in the lawsuit that Tesla employees were able to access these images and videos for their own “tasteless and tortious entertainment” at the expense of the privacy and humiliation of those recorded without their knowledge or consent. Yeh’s attorney, Jack Fitzgerald, stated that Yeh was outraged by the idea that Tesla’s cameras could be used to violate his family’s privacy, which the California Constitution protects.
The lawsuit highlights the severe breach of privacy and potential legal implications for Tesla, as customers entrust their personal data and sensitive information to the company’s vehicles. It remains to be seen how this lawsuit will proceed and what consequences it may have for Tesla’s handling of customer data and privacy.
Tesla must be held accountable for invasions of privacy and misrepresenting lax privacy practices to its customers, stated Fitzgerald, Yeh’s attorney. Tesla still needs to respond to Reuters’ request for comment on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that Tesla’s conduct is particularly egregious and highly offensive. Yeh is filing the complaint for himself, other similarly-situated class members, and the general public. The prospective class would include individuals who have owned or leased a Tesla within the past four years.
According to Reuters, a former employee, they were revealed that some Tesla employees could see intimate and private moments of customers, such as doing laundry or interacting with their children. The lawsuit highlights parents’ fundamental liberty interest in protecting their children’s privacy.
The lawsuit seeks to enjoin Tesla from engaging in wrongful behavior, including violating the privacy of customers and others, and to recover actual and punitive damages.
It remains to be seen how Tesla will respond to the lawsuit and what further developments may arise in this case. The issue of privacy breaches and misrepresenting privacy practices is a serious concern for customers. This lawsuit may have significant implications for Tesla’s handling of customer privacy in the future.
Privacy Breach: Tesla Workers Shared Sensitive Images Recorded by Customer Cars
Tesla Inc, known for assuring its customers that privacy is of utmost importance, has come under scrutiny as it has been revealed that between 2019 and 2022, groups of Tesla employees privately shared invasive videos and images recorded by customers’ car cameras via an internal messaging system, according to interviews with nine former employees conducted by Reuters.
These recordings included embarrassing situations, such as a video of a naked man approaching a Tesla vehicle and crash and road-rage incidents. One ex-employee recounted a video of a high-speed collision with a child riding a bike in a residential area, which was shared among Tesla employees like wildfire.
Other shared images, such as pictures of dogs and funny road signs, became memes with amusing captions or commentary and were more mundane. However, some postings were seen by multiple employees, potentially compromising the privacy of Tesla owners.
While Tesla states in its Customer Privacy Notice that camera recordings remain anonymous and are not linked to individual owners or vehicles, seven former employees revealed that the computer program used at work could show the location of recordings, potentially revealing where a Tesla owner lived.
Furthermore, some recordings appeared to have been made when cars were parked and turned off, despite Tesla’s previous practice of receiving video recordings from vehicles even when they were off with owner consent, which has since been stopped.
This revelation raises concerns about Tesla’s handling of customer privacy and the protection of their data and may have implications for the company’s privacy practices and policies in the future. It remains to be seen how Tesla will respond to these allegations and address the privacy concerns its customers and former employees raised.
According to interviews with former employees, Tesla employees could access and share videos and images from customers’ car cameras, providing an invasive view into customers’ private properties, including their garages. Some shared videos included footage of unique vehicles, such as a submersible car owned by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, which had been featured in a James Bond film.
Reuters, which conducted the investigation, contacted over 300 former Tesla employees involved in developing the company’s self-driving system, with a dozen of them sharing information on the condition of anonymity. Reuters could not obtain shared videos or images, as former employees claimed they did not keep them.
Tesla has employed hundreds of people to label images to train its automated driving system, which requires human assistance to help machines learn tasks such as object recognition. Data labelers were given access to videos or images recorded by car cameras to identify objects such as pedestrians, street signs, and garage doors.
It is still being determined whether sharing recordings continues today or how widespread it was. Some former employees stated that the sharing they observed was for legitimate work purposes, such as seeking assistance from colleagues or supervisors. Tesla has not responded to detailed questions regarding this matter. The revelation highlights the challenges and ethical concerns associated with using artificial intelligence systems that rely on human input for training and the need for robust privacy measures to protect customer data.
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