Netherlands Probes Tesla Over Alleged Data Breach
The Dutch data protection authorities are currently investigating potential breaches at Tesla, following reports of a substantial data leak.
Last Thursday, German newspaper Handelsblatt disclosed allegations of Tesla’s failure to protect vital data from its clientele, staff, and business associates, claiming that a whistleblower leaked a significant 100 gigabytes of confidential data.
“We are aware of the Handelsblatt story and we are looking into it,” stated a representative from the AP data watchdog in the Netherlands, the home of Tesla’s European hub.
The Dutch agency was brought up to speed on the matter by its counterpart in Brandenburg, Germany.
While Handelsblatt reportedly stated that Tesla alerted Dutch authorities to the breach, the AP spokesperson did not confirm whether the company had approached their agency. No comments were made regarding any ongoing or imminent investigations, citing policy.
The report alleged that a large volume of customer data was available in a collection called “Tesla Files.” The Brandenburg data protection office, the location of Tesla’s European gigafactory, labeled the data leak as “massive.” Dagmar Hartge, Brandenburg’s data protection officer, voiced her shock at the extent of the leak, indicating that the Dutch authorities would handle enforcement if the allegations were proven.
The documents reportedly include extensive records of over 100,000 former and present employees, Elon Musk’s social security number, confidential email addresses, contact numbers, employee wages, customer bank information, and confidential production data.
Such a breach would constitute a violation of the GDPR. If proven, Tesla could face a substantial penalty of up to 4% of its yearly sales, which equates to a staggering €3.26 billion.
The German union IG Metall described the disclosures as “disturbing” and urged Tesla to foster a culture of transparency regarding data protection violations, encouraging employees to voice concerns without fear.
“These revelations… fit with the picture that we have gained in just under two years,” Dirk Schulze, IG Metall’s incoming district manager for Berlin, Brandenburg, and Saxony, observed.
Handelsblatt quoted a Tesla attorney blaming a “disgruntled former employee” for exploiting their access privileges, with the company intending to seek legal redress against the suspected leaker.
The leaked documents allegedly contained thousands of customer complaints about Tesla’s driver assistance systems.
Just last month, a Reuters report revealed that groups of Tesla employees had privately shared invasive customer videos and images between 2019 and 2022.