- Tesla is facing a new class-action lawsuit on behalf of anyone who owned or leased a Tesla since 2019.
- The suit claims Tesla violated privacy laws when employees accessed and shared private photos and videos of customers.
- Tesla employees could access footage captured by the onboard cameras, Reuters reported earlier this week.
Tesla was hit with a class-action lawsuit Friday after reports emerged that the company may have violated privacy laws by allegedly internally sharing private photos and videos captured by the cars.
The suit was filed in response to a report from Reuters, part of which has been confirmed by Insider, that Tesla employees had access to photos and videos captured by cameras used for Tesla’s driving assistance programs, and sometimes shared and joked about the footage internally.
Henry Yeh, who has owned a Tesla for over a year, filed the suit against the electric vehicle manufacturer on behalf of anyone who has owned or leased a Tesla since 2019.
The suit claims Tesla violated California’s state constitution, privacy laws, its own privacy policies, and misled customers about use of their data. Tesla’s website states the cameras are “designed from the ground up to protect your privacy.”
If a judge deems it a proper class action, the lawsuit could force Tesla to pay damages to vehicle owners for allegedly violating their privacy. The footage also contained data regarding the location where it was captured, meaning Tesla employees could determine the address and likely the identity of an individual Tesla owner, according to the staffers speaking to Reuters.
Tesla owners are left with two options, according to the suit — leave the cameras on and jeopardize their privacy, or pay a professional to disable the cameras, likely losing access to the Autopilot systems, which may have been a key reason they bought a Tesla.
“No one gave Tesla’s employees permission to circulate and get entertainment out of their private images,” Jack Fitzgerald, one of the attorneys representing Yeh, said in a statement to Insider. “This is a shocking breach of trust by Tesla.”
The suit cites several stories from the Reuters report, which included Tesla employees saying they allegedly shared photos and videos of Tesla owners amongst themselves. The content included images of owners’ homes, their families, and in one case, a video of a man approaching his car naked.
A former Tesla Autopilot engineer confirmed to Insider’s Tim Levin and Grace Kay that employees were able to see video taken by the many cameras in the car, and compared it to having access to “god’s eye.” Reuters also reported that employees allegedly shared videos and images of road rage incidents and accidents, including one where a child was knocked off a bike.
Tesla did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment Saturday morning.