Investigation Launched into Alleged Tesla Data Breach by Dutch Watchdog

The Dutch data protection watchdog has initiated an investigation into potential data breaches involving Tesla, according to recent reports

The Dutch data protection watchdog has initiated an investigation into potential data breaches involving Tesla, according to recent reports. The allegations suggest that Tesla failed to adequately safeguard confidential data belonging to customers, employees, and business partners. A whistleblower leaked approximately 100 gigabytes of confidential data, prompting concerns over data protection practices within the company. The Dutch watchdog, located in the same country as Tesla’s European headquarters, confirmed its awareness of the situation but refrained from providing further details at this early stage.

While the agency did not disclose whether an investigation had been launched, it acknowledged its examination of the matter following notification from the German state of Brandenburg. Tesla reportedly informed Dutch authorities about the breach, although the data watchdog spokesperson stated that they were unaware of any representations made by the company to the agency. Requests for comment from Tesla regarding the Handelsblatt report, which mentioned the presence of customer data labeled as “Tesla Files,” were unanswered at the time of reporting.

The Brandenburg data protection office, located near Tesla’s European gigafactory, referred to the data leak as “massive” and expressed surprise at its scale. The Dutch authorities now hold responsibility for the case and may undertake enforcement action if the allegations prove to be true. The leaked files reportedly contain extensive information, such as the names of over 100,000 former and current employees, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s social security number. Additionally, the data set allegedly includes private email addresses, phone numbers, employee salaries, customer bank details, and confidential production details, Handelsblatt reported.

The potential breach is said to violate the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which could lead to significant penalties for Tesla if proven. The company could face fines of up to 4% of its annual sales, amounting to a potential 3.26 billion euros. The German union IG Metall expressed concern over the revelations and called on Tesla to inform its employees about any data protection violations. The union emphasized the importance of fostering a culture where staff can openly raise concerns and grievances without fear.

Tesla’s legal representative stated that the leaked data resulted from the actions of a “disgruntled former employee” who misused their access as a service technician. The company intends to take legal action against the individual suspected of the leak. Reports based on the leaked files highlight thousands of customer complaints related to Tesla’s driver assistance systems, including sudden acceleration and phantom braking issues. This recent incident follows a Reuters report revealing that groups of Tesla employees privately shared invasive videos and images captured by customers’ car cameras between 2019 and 2022.

In a separate development, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, received a record fine of 1.2 billion euros from the European Union privacy regulator for mishandling user information. The company was also instructed to cease the transfer of user data to the United States within five months. These events highlight the growing concerns surrounding data protection and privacy practices in the technology industry.

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