Spy at Tesla? New developer copied massive amounts of data into private storage

According to the accused, the incident was nothing but an accident, but according to Tesla he acted deliberately and with malicious intent: On Friday it became known that a newly hired software developer started almost immediately after joining the company shortly after Christmas 2020, To load massive amounts of business-critical data into his private account with the storage service Dropbox. When he was confronted by other employees in early January, he tried to cover up his tracks after the Tesla account.

Copied internal Python scripts from Tesla

The New York Post first reported on Tesla’s lawsuit and the defense of the software expert, who was hired in a senior position for quality assurance and worked from home. According to Tesla, this involves a total of around 26,000 files and scripts, among other things for the automation of business processes such as parts ordering or vehicle delivery. The company describes them as trade secrets that only around 40 of its 50,000 employees have access to.

The copied scripts in the Python programming language show which Tesla systems automation is important and valuable for and how it was implemented, the New York Post quotes from the complaint. This could give competitors a “map for copying the Tesla innovation”.

Three days after starting work, the new developer started downloading the Tesla data and copied it to his Dropbox account. This was noticed on January 6, and he was confronted with the theft in a video call, Tesla further accuses him, according to the New York Post. At the beginning of the conversation, while internal investigators were trying to access his computer, he deleted his Dropbox program and other files.

Accused rejects allegations

The accused himself presented the events to the New York Post completely differently. According to his information, he had received the order from Tesla to download the data in question because he was supposed to work on part of it. Actually, he just wanted to make a backup copy in a separate folder on his computer, which he then “accidentally” moved to Dropbox. At Tesla’s request, he then deleted the files there as well as his program for Dropbox access. In the internal interrogation he had not lied and he was shocked by the allegations now made.


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