Tesla Files: Insider stole 100 Gb of data and gave it to the media

A Tesla insider has stolen about 100 Gb of data from the automaker and has given it to a German media company, which is now releasing some details.

Handelsblatt, a German media company, calls the leak “Tesla Files.”

According to the company, “insiders” gave them 100 Gb of data coming straight from Tesla:

Informants have passed 100 gigabytes of data to the Handelsblatt, which is said to come from the heart of the world’s largest electric car manufacturer. The “Tesla files” contain more than 23,000 files.

It reportedly includes private information about Tesla employees and customers as well as confidential information about Tesla’s products and trade secrets from its “business partners.”

Tesla believes that a single former employee is responsible for the leak and downloaded the data before leaving. The company plans to take legal action against that former employee, according to an email by Tesla managing counsel Joseph Alm.

Handelsblatt put a tool together that it claims can reveal whether or not the leak includes information about a specific Tesla owner based on entering their VIN (car identification number). However, I entered half a dozen VIN myself, and it didn’t return any information.

The publication also claims that some of the documents show that Tesla is having problems with Autopilot and self-driving technology.

The story is still developing. We will update with more details.

Here’s Tesla’s full response to Handelsblatt about the leak:

Correspondence Concerning Purported Possession of Stolen Information
16 May 2023

Dear Mr. lwersen,

You have informed us that you are in receipt of stolen Tesla confidential information, including Tesla and our business partner’s trade secrets and Tesla employees’ personal data, per your May 10th email.

We continue to investigate the circumstances alleged in your email. To date, we have reason to believe that a disgruntled ex-employee (…) right before he left Tesla, misused his access as a service technician to exfiltrate information in violation of his signed non-disclosure agreement, Tesla’s data management policies and practices, and EU and German law.

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 confidential information and employees’ personal data. We will also cooperate with criminal authorities in this matter.

To be clear, the information that you claim was shared with you could only have been done so in violation of at least Tesla’s non-disclosure agreements and policies, data management policies and practices, and EU and German law. Tesla continues to investigate and will pursue legal claims against anyone who – themselves or through solicitation – steals, misuses, or otherwise misappropriates Tesla confidential information or the personal data of its employees and business partners.

As you know, use of illegally obtained data for media reporting is not allowed absent exceptional circumstances. The possession of such data itself without a proper justification breaches, among other things, data protection law. And mishandling this information subjects recipients, such as Handelsblatt, to liability for violation of trade secrets, data protection law, and handling stolen data, among other things. Any such sensitive data in your possession also requires you to protect it carefully against further misappropriation. To this end, please send us a copy of this information, immediately delete all other copies, and confirm with us that you’ve done so.

Joseph Alm

Managing Counsel for Litigation
Tesla, lnc.