In 2021, the electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla, earned $53.8 billion in revenue, and delivered 938,172 vehicles.
The company employs about 100,000 people worldwide.
And at least some of these employees share very personal information about Tesla customers.
As you may know, a group of employees said that private videos from customers’ cars were regularly viewed by staff.
One employee said, “We could see inside people’s garages and their private properties.”
Some of the videos showed things like funny road signs. Other videos showed customers in embarrassing or revealing moments.
One employee admitted that employees shared videos of people crashing and driving naked.
The videos were often shared among employees in chats and emails.
“If you saw something cool that would get a reaction, you post it, right, and then later, on break, people would come up to you and say, ‘Oh, I saw what you posted. That was funny,” one employee said.
All Tesla vehicles are equipped with eight cameras outside and one camera inside. They can see over 200 yards in any direction.
In other words, any person who walks by a Tesla is filmed without knowing it.
Or if a Tesla was parked in front of a house, it could potentially see into the house through windows.
According to Tesla, recordings made by vehicles, “remain anonymous and are not linked to you or your vehicle.”
In addition, Tesla said, “Your vehicle may collect the data and make it available to Tesla for analysis. This analysis helps Tesla improve its products, and features, and diagnose problems quicker.”
The truth is, most people don’t think their most embarrassing or scary car moments could be shared among Tesla employees for fun.
Yet, as more car makers are adding the latest technology to their cars, they are collecting more data.
The concern is where this data is stored and ends up, as it could be a privacy disaster.
In fact, here are a few examples of the data your car is collecting about you.
It’s like a smartphone:
Newer cars are like a smartphone on wheels. They have Wi-Fi, computers, and are Bluetooth enabled.
Your car knows whether you are going to church or spending all day at the bar, and all of these data points are used to create a driver profile.
The question is where the data is sent and stored.
Before buying a new car, you should ask the dealership how the data is collected and stored.
Remember, hackers can target vehicles like they do computers, so you want to make sure there is security in place.
There is an entire industry built around collecting drivers’ behavior and analyzing it called telematics.
Telematics was first used by insurance companies to collect data about driving habits, and then provide good-driver discounts.
For example, Progressive Insurance calls its telematics program Snapshot.
But today, telematics is no longer solely used by insurance companies. Car makers are building telematics into the cars from the start.
According to one company, “Our high-frequency sensors can identify phone distraction, classify drivers or passengers, recognize speeding and hard braking, all without complicated installation.”
In other words, if you are in an accident and were doing something unsafe, there is a good chance data will prove it.
Many new cars have a touchscreen dashboard called an infotainment system.
This system allows drivers to connect their smartphone to the car and control the phone on the car’s dashboard.
It’s convenient for making hands-free calls or for playing music from your smartphone.
But it also shares data from your smartphone with your car.
In some cases, when you connect your smartphone, it automatically copies your contact list and text messages.
This is especially problematic if you do this in a rental car or a car that belongs to someone else – it opens your smartphone to being copied or compromised.
I would avoid using infotainment or connecting your smartphone to your car if you can help it.
None of the cars I own are new enough to have any of these features, and I’m going to keep it that way for as long as I can.
If you do own a newer car, use caution to keep your information safe.
But threats to your privacy in your car is one thing, threats to your physical safety are a whole other ballgame.
Most people don’t train or drill self-defense tactics in a vehicle, especially drawing, shooting, and finding scarce cover inside a car.
This is a huge gap in preparedness, and a potentially deadly mistake.