Some workers shared sensitive photos and videos captured by the cameras on owners’ cars between each other for several years, according to . Former employees told the outlet that colleagues shared the images in group chats and one-on-one communications between 2019 and last year.
One such video showed a Tesla driving at high speed before hitting a child on a bike, Reuters reported. Other footage included things like a nude man walking toward a vehicle. “We could see them doing laundry and really intimate things. We could see their kids,” one of the former employees said.
Workers are said to have sent each other videos taken inside Tesla owners’ garages, too. One clip reportedly showed a submersible white Lotus Esprit sub that appeared in the 1977 James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me. As it happens, Tesla CEO Elon Musk , suggesting that his employees were circulating footage that a vehicle captured inside his garage.
The image-sharing practice “was a breach of privacy, to be honest,” one of the former employees said. “And I always joked that I would never buy a Tesla after seeing how they treated some of these people.”
, Tesla says each new vehicle it builds is equipped with eight external cameras. These support features such as Autopilot, Smart Summon and Autopark. They also enable the surveillance system that captures footage of people approaching a parked Tesla and other seemingly suspicious activity.
The company states in its that it designed the camera system to protect user privacy. It says that even if owners opt in to share camera recordings with Tesla for “fleet learning” purposes, “camera recordings remain anonymous and are not linked to you or your vehicle” unless it receives the footage due to a safety event, such as a crash or an airbag deployment. Even so, one employee said it was possible for Tesla data labelers to see the location of captured footage on Google Maps.
Tesla does not have a communications department that can be reached for comment.