Two former Tesla employees have been accused of leaking 75,735 current and former employee’s data to media outlet Handelsblatt in May, according to a notice published by the Office of the Maine Attorney General’s website on Friday (17 August).
“A foreign media outlet (named Handelsblatt) informed Tesla on May 10, 2023 that it had obtained Tesla confidential information,” Tesla stated in its letter to the state Attorney General.
“The investigation revealed that two former Tesla employees misappropriated the information in violation of Tesla’s IT security and data protection policies and shared it with the media outlet.
“Tesla also obtained court orders that prohibit the former employees from further use, access, or dissemination of the data,” according to the letter.
The letter states that electronic devices containing company information were seized from the two former employees due to the lawsuit.
German newspaper Handelsblatt informed Tesla that it will not publish the data as it is “legally prohibited from using it inappropriately,” according to the letter.
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In May, Handelsblatt reported that Tesla had failed to adequately protect data from customers, employees and business partners.
The newspaper reported that the files list names of former and current employees, including Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk’s social security number. It also lists private email addresses, phone numbers, salaries of employees and bank details of customers.
Tesla has begun notifying those affected by the breach.
The incident is not the first time the car manufacturer has come under fire for data breaches in recent months. In April, Reuters reported Tesla workers shared sensitive images recorded by customer cars.
Between 2019 and 2022, it was reported that employees shared ‘invasive’ images and videos recorded by car cameras.
Chinese authorities also banned Tesla vehicles from military complexes and housing compounds in May, citing fears that the cars’ in-built cameras could gather sensitive data.