Two ex-Tesla employees face legal action over “Tesla Files” leak

Key Points

  • 😮 Two former Tesla employees are being sued by the company over the leak of “Tesla Files” containing personal information of over 75,000 individuals.
  • 🕵️‍♂️ Tesla took immediate action upon learning about the leak, filing lawsuits against the ex-employees and seizing their electronic devices.
  • 📄 Tesla cooperated with law enforcement, obtained court orders to prevent further data dissemination, and is offering credit monitoring services to affected individuals.
  • 🌐 German media outlet Handelsblatt informed Tesla of the leak, and investigations revealed the involvement of the two former employees.
  • 🛡️ Tesla’s response involves legal action, seizing devices, and obtaining court orders to prevent further data use.
  • 🔍 The leaked data included sensitive information such as social security numbers and personal identifying information.
  • 🚗 Tesla is providing credit monitoring and identity detection services to those affected, along with advising vigilance against phishing attempts.
  • 📜 Tesla’s detailed account of the issue was submitted to the Maine Attorney General’s Office.
  • 🌟 The leaked “Tesla Files” incident underscores the importance of data security and legal consequences for breaches.

Two former Tesla employees are currently the subjects of a lawsuit filed by the electric vehicle manufacturer due to their involvement in the unauthorized release of the “Tesla Files” earlier this year. This leaked information purportedly encompasses sensitive details, including social security numbers and other personal identifying data of over 75,000 individuals.

Tesla’s course of action in response to this breach was detailed in an advisory communication published by the Maine Attorney General’s Office. The letter, issued by the electric vehicle company, not only provided context about the incident but also outlined the measures taken to address the leak. Tesla became aware of the situation when informed by the German media outlet Handelsblatt on May 10, 2023, that it had acquired confidential data. Subsequent investigations revealed that the leak could be traced back to two former Tesla employees.

In light of the data leak, widely referred to by the German media outlet as the “Tesla files,” the company asserted that it had initiated legal proceedings against its two former employees as part of its response. Additionally, the electronic devices of these former Tesla workers were reportedly seized, and court orders were obtained to prevent any further distribution of the leaked information by these individuals.

Following is Tesla’s account for the issue, as per the company’s notice that was submitted to the Maine Attorney General’s Office. 

“A foreign media outlet (named Handelsblatt) informed Tesla on May 10, 2023 that it had obtained Tesla confidential information. The investigation revealed that two former Tesla employees misappropriated the information in violation of Tesla’s IT security and data protection policies and shared it with the media outlet. The outlet has stated that it does not intend to publish the personal information, and in any event, is legally prohibited from using it inappropriately. 

“Tesla immediately took steps to contain the incident, understand the scope, and protect your information. Among other things, we identified and filed lawsuits against the two former employees. These lawsuits resulted in the seizure of the former employees’ electronic devices that were believed to have contained the Tesla information. Tesla also obtained court orders that prohibit the former employees from further use, access, or dissemination of the data, subject to criminal penalties. Tesla cooperated with law enforcement and external forensics experts and will continue to take appropriate steps as necessary. 

“We also arranged resources to determine what data was involved and identify potentially affected individuals. As discussed below, we recently confirmed that certain employee-related records were among the confidential information affected as part of this incident.”

The electric vehicle maker noted that it is offering credit monitoring and identity detection and resolution services to those affected by the data leak. This comes in the form of a complimentary membership to Experian’s IdentityWorks, which provides credit monitoring as well as identity detection and resolution services. The company also advised its users to be extremely vigilant against possible “phishing” attempts, and be extremely thorough with their account statements and credit history. 

Tesla’s letter to the Maine Attorney General’s Office can be viewed below. 

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