German authorities looking into possible data protection violations by Tesla, newspaper reports

An electric car manufacturer has failed to protect data from customers, employees and business partners.

German authorities looking into possible data protection violations by Tesla, newspaper reports

The German authorities are concerned about possible data privacy violations by Tesla. This was reported in Handelsblatt on Thursday. It cited the data protection office of the state where Tesla has its European megafactory.

The report by Handelsblatt said that the U.S. electric vehicle manufacturer failed to adequately safeguard data from its customers, employees, and business partners. It cited 100 gigabytes worth of confidential information leaked to a newspaper by a leaker.

The Dutch data protection supervisory authority, where Tesla’s European headquarters are located, was informed of the situation, according to the newspaper. Tesla had also submitted a preliminary report on the issue to the Dutch authorities.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union stipulates that businesses are required to take action if they suspect personal data has been compromised.

Brandenburg Data Protection Office was not available to comment immediately.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The data set dubbed the "Tesla Files" contains "ample" customer data, according to Handelsblatt.

These files contain tables with more than 100,000 names, including those of current and former employees. They also include the social security numbers of Tesla CEO Elon Musk and private email addresses and phone numbers.

The newspaper also added that the breach would be in violation of GDPR.

A lawyer for Tesla told Handelsblatt that a "disgruntled ex-employee" had abused the access he was given as a technician to obtain information. The company said it would take legal actions against the suspected former employee.

According to the newspaper, the whistleblower informed the German authorities of the data breach in April.

Handelsblatt quoted a Brandenburg data protection officer spokesperson as saying that the matter would be serious from a data privacy point of view, if there was substantial evidence.

The newspaper reported on thousands of complaints from customers about the driver assistance systems. Around 4,000 complaints were related to sudden acceleration and phantom braking.

A Reuters report last month revealed that Tesla employees shared videos and images taken by car cameras of customers between 2019 and 2020 via an internal messaging service.