The charges are scrutinizing Tesla's potential information security violations

May 30, 2023: German charges have serious indications of potential information security violations by Tesla, Handelsblatt newspaper reported on Thursday, citing the data protection office where the carmaker has its European gigafactory.

Handelsblatt’s report said the U.S. electric car manufacturer has failed to adequately protect data from customers, employees, and business partners, citing 100 gigabytes of confidential data leaked to the newspaper by a whistleblower.

The newspaper said that the data protection supervisory authority in the Netherlands, where Tesla’s European headquarters is located, has been informed of the case, adding that Tesla also filed a preliminary report to the Dutch authorities.

The European Union’s General Information Protection Regulation, or GDPR, stipulates that companies must do so if they fear personal data may have been leaked.

The Brandenburg data protection office was not immediately available for comment.

Handelsblatt said customer data could be found “in abundance” in the data set, dubbed “Tesla Files.”

The files include tables containing more than 100,000 names of former and current employees, including the social security number of Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk, private email addresses, phone numbers, salaries of employees, customer bank details, and secret details from production.

The breach would violate the GDPR, the newspaper added.

Handelsblatt quoted a lawyer for Tesla as saying a “disgruntled former employee” had abused his access as a service technician to get information, adding that the firm would take permitted action against the suspected ex-employee.

According to the newspaper, the whistleblower notified the German authorities about the data protection breach in April.

The matter would become serious from a data protection point of view if the evidence becomes substantial, a spokesperson for Brandenburg data protection office was quoted as saying by Handelsblatt.

Citing the leaked files, the newspaper reported thousands of customer complaints regarding the carmaker’s driver assistance systems, with around 4,000 complaints of sudden acceleration or phantom breaking.

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