Tesla is going through a complex moment, following a report that its employees had access to private videos recorded from various cars and then shared as memes in closed groups. Following the report of Reutersthe company could face a possible class action lawsuit.
The request was filed last week, a day after it was reported that employees at Tesla would share highly invasive videos and images recorded by cameras in customers’ cars on the company’s messaging systems between 2019 and 2022.
Henry Yeh, a San Francisco resident and owner of a Tesla Model Y, alleges in the lawsuit that Tesla employees violated customers’ privacy by accessing and sharing the images and videos for their “unpleasant and torturous entertainment,” resulting in “humiliation of those recorded without their knowledge.” The plaintiff contends that Tesla’s conduct is “particularly egregious” and “highly offensive.”
Yeh filed the case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and the potential class action would include people who owned or leased a Tesla within the last four years. His attorney, Scott Fitzgerald, told the media that “like anyone else, Mr. Yeh is outraged by the idea that Tesla’s cameras could be used to violate his family’s privacy, which the California Constitution scrupulously protects. Tesla must be held accountable for these invasions and for misrepresenting its lax privacy practices to him and other owners of Tesla cars.”
In the last week, a Reuters report collected testimony from Tesla employees who pointed to the existence of an internal network of collaborators accessing and sharing videos and photos captured from cameras added on vehicles to enhance autonomous driving and surveillance systems.
Former employee said Tesla employees could see customers. “doing really intimate things. We could see their kids.” Other images were pictures of dogs and funny road signs that became memes. Some of the videos were only shared between two employees in direct messages, while others could be viewed more widely.
Seven former employees mentioned to Reuters that the software they used at work could show location data from the recordings and potentially reveal where a Tesla owner lived. Tesla’s online “Customer Privacy Notice” states that its “camera recordings remain anonymous and are not linked to you or your vehicle.”