Tesla Workers Shared Customer Videos Taken by Sentry Mode Without Consent: Report

Tesla ex-employees reported sharing videos of a naked man, children getting hit by cars, and more.

byAaron Cole|
Electric Vehicles photo

Tesla employees reportedly passed around private videos and images of customer cars in “Sentry Mode,” perhaps even by CEO Elon Musk’s car, according to a scathing Reuters report published Thursday. The report sources nine former Tesla employees but doesn’t name them due to fear of reprimand. The report details employee activity between 2019 and 2022, where employees privately shared photos and videos taken by cars, including one of a naked man approaching his Tesla vehicle.

The report outlines other videos of crashes and road rage incidents, including a child getting hit by a bike in a Tesla vehicle that reportedly spread “like wildfire,” an ex-employee said. The images and videos were sometimes shared privately between two employees or in wider employee groups. 

Tesla and Musk did not comment on the report. Tesla says that its data is uploaded anonymously, although employees said location data is included that could identify the owner based on where it was taken. The report's timing is doubly damaging as Tesla is under scrutiny by some European countries for its data collection methods. In Germany, the company faces a lawsuit by consumer group vzbv claiming the automaker is misleading the public by not disclosing to passersby they may be recorded. 

Tesla via Tesla

Reuters said it contacted more than 300 employees for the report with more than a dozen responses. Some said the information was shared among workers for legitimate purposes, such as labeling street signs and pedestrians for its self-driving systems. Others reported that the recordings could be an invasion of privacy. 

“I sometimes wondered if these people know that we're seeing that,” one ex-employee told Reuters. “I saw some scandalous stuff sometimes, you know, like I did see scenes of intimacy but not nudity,” another told the outlet. “And there was just definitely a lot of stuff that like, I wouldn't want anybody to see about my life.” 

The employees also said images from customer cars would be used for memes and shared around office groups. One employee said that people promoted to managerial positions were often notorious for creating funny memes shared among workers. Disturbing videos, including a person, reportedly dragged into a Tesla car against their will, were also shared, one ex-employee said. 

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