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Tesla Data Leak Exposes Full Self-Driving Safety Nightmare

Tesla customers filed more than 3,900 safety complaints between 2015 and March 2022, according to German newspaper Handelsblatt

Tesla has often advised customers not to rely on auto-pilot mode in its company print.

Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) customers have filed more than 2,400 complaints regarding self-acceleration issues and 1,500 complaints about braking problems between 2015 and March 2022, according to a report by the German newspaper Handelsblatt.

Passengers ride in an electric Jaguar I-Pace car outfitted with Waymo full self-driving technology in Santa Monica Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. ALLEN J. SCHABEN/BENZINGA

The complaints about these Full Self Driving (FSD) features spanned across regions including the United States, Europe, and Asia, and were based on leaked data from Tesla’s IT system.

Handelsblatt obtained access to data from Tesla’s IT system, revealing reports of unintended emergency braking and sudden acceleration. While most of these incidents had minor consequences, some resulted in fatal outcomes.

The newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief, Sebastian Matthes, explained that the exclusive data used for the report was sourced from multiple informants and comprised a significant amount of information, totaling 100 gigabytes and consisting of 23,398 files. A team spent six months analyzing the files to compile the report.

The Verge reported the development earlier on Thursday.

The series of reports not only shed light on Tesla’s autopilot issues but also raised concerns about weak data protection within the company. The informants were able to access files without significant restrictions, leading to the leak of sensitive information.

The leaked data reportedly included employee salaries, customer bank details, CEO Elon Musk’s social security number, as well as details about Tesla’s autopilot system and upcoming Cybertruck.

The informants responsible for the leak also reached out to the data protection officer of Brandenburg, the federal state where Tesla’s German Gigafactory is located.

Elon Musk, Chairman, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors, addresses a press conference to declare that the Tesla Motors releases v7.0 System in China on a limited basis for its Model S, which will enable self-driving features such as Autosteer for a select group of beta testers on October 23, 2015, in Beijing, China. The v7.0 system includes Autosteer, a new Autopilot feature. While it’s not absolutely self-driving and the driver still need to hold the steering wheel and be mindful of road conditions and surrounding traffic when using Autosteer. When set to the new Autosteer mode, graphics on the driver’s display will show the path the Model S is following, post the current speed limit and indicate if a car is in front of the Tesla. (Visual China Group via Getty Images)

State data protection officer Dagmar Hartge acknowledged the seriousness of the allegations and noted that if true, the data breach would impact a significant number of individuals globally. The case has been forwarded to privacy advocates in the Netherlands for further investigation.

Handelsblatt contacted Tesla for comment, but the company demanded the deletion of the leaked data and accused the newspaper of data theft.

“Tesla rigorously protects its confidential information and the personal information of its employees and customers. We intend to initiate legal proceedings against this individual for his theft of Tesla’s confidential information and employees’ personal data,” Tesla wrote in a response published by the paper.

Tesla has reportedly filed a report with the Dutch data protection authority and plans to take legal action in response to the data leak. The company’s legal representative attributed the leaked information to a “disgruntled former employee.”

Tesla’s FSD software suite has been the subject of widespread criticism over its safety, but several analysts have said its vehicles are much safer than an average American car. 

The EV giant reportedly restarted the rollout of its FSD Beta to new testers earlier this week, after a months-long pause triggered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) recalls affecting 362,758 vehicles equipped with the software.

On Thursday, Tesla shares closed up 0.86% at $184.47 in the regular session and were up 0.45% in Friday’s premarket, according to data from Benzinga Pro.

Produced in association with Benzinga

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