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In what seems like an unwarranted transgression into car owners' privacy, former Tesla employees have reported that some of their private data were shared among unauthorized personnel.
According to a special report by Reuters, private camera recordings, captured by various cameras built into Tesla models, were shared among staff using internal chat applications. As many as nine previous employees at the world's largest electric car manufacturing company said that between 2019 and 2022, pictures or short videos were privately shared via an internal messaging system, sometimes involving nudity, road rage, and accidents. 
The company had stressed in its agreement that it understands the importance of protecting private data collected for research. Based on the premise, permission for this exercise is granted by the respective owners while using their car's infotainment system. The cameras that come fitted to Tesla models are intended to assist driving, especially when its Autopilot system is engaged. 
In interviews with the news agency, the informants detailed how a few of the customers' recordings were demeaning. An instance in which a customer was walking towards the car completely naked was shared. 
Recordings of car accidents and road-rage incidents also made it into the list of items circulated. Reuters mentions a team member account that detailed a video of a crash in 2021, in which a Tesla driving at high speed in a residential area hit a child riding a bike. The footage recorded showed the child flying in one direction and the cycle in another. The video was shared via private chat among people in Tesla's San Mateo office in California. An ex-employee stated that it spread “like wildfire."
The other shared items were not disturbing, "such as pictures of dogs and funny road signs that employees made into memes by embellishing them with amusing captions or commentary, before posting them in private group chats," said the report. 
The ex-employees confirmed access to owners' garages and private properties. “Let's say that a Tesla customer had something in their garage that was distinctive, you know, people would post those kinds of things," said one interviewee to Reuters. 
Tesla's customer privacy notice states that its camera recordings will remain anonymous and not be linked to a particular vehicle or its owner. However, previous employees confirm how the computer program they utilized could provide the location of the recordings – "which potentially could reveal where a Tesla owner lived," said the report. 
The news agency's query for a response on the matter from the automaker went unanswered. The issue gains relevance as connected cars are fast becoming the norm in the industry, and if necessary safeguards are not put in place, such incidents may soon become widespread.