Tesla workers share customers' private camera recordings

Occurred: April 2023

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Tesla employees have been privately sharing private videos images and videos recorded by its customers' car cameras on its internal messaging system and with third party suppliers, according to a report by Reuters. The recordings captured highly intimate and sensitive moments, and were used between 2019 and 2022 to improve Tesla's computer vision machine learning systems.

Tesla sources contacted by Reuters said the recordings were shared with Sama, a self-described 'ethical AI' non-profit that provides data labelling and content moderation services, before it was brought in-house. A February 2022 TIME investigation revealed low pay, poor working conditions and alleged union-busting at Sama's office in Nairobi, Kenya.

On the basis of Reuters' findings, California Tesla owner Henry Yeh lodged a class-action legal complaint (pdf) against Tesla for the alleged invasion of privacy in customers' homes and vehicles, negligence, breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment.

In its privacy notice, Tesla states that 'camera recordings remain anonymous and are not linked to you or your vehicle' and that privacy 'is and will always be enormously important to us.' 

Operator: Multiple
Developer: Tesla
Country: USA
Sector: Automotive
Purpose: Automate steering, acceleration, braking
Technology: Driver assistance system; Computer vision
Issue: Privacy; Employment
Transparency: Governance; Marketing; Privacy