Former Tesla employees say intimate photos and videos of owners taken by the electric vehicles’ built-in cameras were widely shared among workers despite the company’s privacy protections, Reuters reported Thursday, claims that add to mounting controversy over Tesla’s various high-tech features.
Between 2019 and 2022, recordings of Tesla owners were privately shared via the company’s internal messaging system, catching customers naked, showing their kids and sometimes revealing their locations, nine ex-employees told Reuters.
Some of the images were reportedly turned into memes featuring customers’ dogs and funny road signs, while others depicted car crashes and road-rage incidents, including one video of a Tesla crashing into a child riding a bike—but many were distributed to scores of employees.
Tesla’s cameras are intended to record driving incidents, as well as power the autopilot and autopark features by recognizing street signs, traffic lights and other roadside obstacles.
The company employs hundreds of workers to label photos taken by Teslas to help the cars’ systems recognize common obstacles, in turn giving employees access to these recordings.
The cameras, known as Dashcams, are mounted in the car to record footage of a vehicle’s surroundings only when it’s powered on, according to the company’s website—but one former employee told Reuters some recordings appeared to be taken when the car was parked and turned off.
Even if customers consent, recordings are supposed to remain anonymous and not be linked to the individual…