Tesla sues former employee for allegedly stealing company data

Elon Musk's Tesla roadster. Photo: Flickr/einstraus

June 21 (UPI) — Tesla is suing a former employee for allegedly hacking its manufacturing operating system and illegally exporting company data.

The lawsuit filed in Nevada states former process technician Martin Tripp wrote software that hacked Tesla’s manufacturing operating system and transferred several gigabytes of data, including “dozens of confidential photographs and a video of Tesla’s manufacturing system” to outside entities.

Tesla also alleges Tripp wrote computer code, which he placed on the system that would continue to run and export data after he left the company.

Tripp denied hacking Tesla’s system and told CNN he was fired within the last week and the company sued him for attempting to warn investors and the public about issues with the carmaker.

“I am being singled out for being a whistleblower,” he said. “The data I was collecting was so severe, I had to go to the media.”

Tripp said he discovered that 1,100 damaged battery modules were installed in Model 3 cars presently on the road and he was also concerned about excessive scrap being stored in a dangerous manner on Tesla’s property in Nevada. He added Tesla’s April 3 report, in which the company said it built 2,020 Model 3 cars, was inaccurate and the actual number was closer to 1,900.

In the suit, Tesla stated the allegations Tripp made were false.

“Tripp claimed that punctured battery cells had been used in certain Model 3 vehicles even though no punctured cells were ever used in vehicles, batteries or otherwise,” the suit states. “Tripp also vastly exaggerated the true amount and value of ‘scrap’ material that Tesla generated during the manufacturing process, and falsely claimed that Tesla was delayed in bringing new manufacturing equipment online.”

The suit seeks unspecified financial damages and permission to search Tripp’s computers personal USB and electronic storage devices, email accounts, cloud-based storage accounts, and mobile phone call and messaging history.

Prior to the lawsuit Tesla CEO Elon Musk sent an email to employees stating a worker had committed extensive sabotage.


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