SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (WTVO) — Tesla employees shared images recorded by its cars on an internal messaging system between 2019 and 2022, according to a new report.
According to Reuters, who said it spoke with nine former employees, employees shared sometimes embarrassing videos of their customers and memed certain recordings amongst themselves.
Tesla requires car owners to grant permission before vehicle data is shared with the company.
The company claims that “camera recordings remain anonymous and are not linked to you or your vehicle,” but Tesla employs an army of human employees to help train its artificial intelligence Autopilot driving system, and they have access to thousands of hours of video recorded by the car’s camera array.
While Telsa maintains that the data is collected anonymously, and is not linked to a customer ID or vehicle identification number (VIN), one former employee said, “We could see inside people’s garages and their 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.”
Another former employee told Reuters that their normal work duties involved scanning the footage recorded by the cars, saying, “I saw some scandalous stuff sometimes, you know, like I did see scenes of intimacy but not nudity. And there was just definitely a lot of stuff that like, I wouldn’t want anybody to see about my life.”
The report says some government-controlled areas in China have banned the Tesla cars because of concerns over its cameras.
The report said many of Tesla’s workers in its San Mateo offices are young, in the 20s and early 30s, and come from a culture that shares memes and viral online content.
Staffers said some employees working in the data labeling system would share screenshots in private group chats on the company’s internal messaging system.
“If you saw something cool that would get a reaction, you post it, right, and then later, on break, people would come up to you and say, ‘Oh, I saw what you posted. That was funny,’” said another former employee.
The employees said Telsa managers would reprimand workers over inappropriate sharing of videos or images if it came to their attention.
But “Knowing how much data those vehicles are capable of collecting definitely made folks nervous,” one said.