The data protection watchdog for the Netherlands said on Friday it was aware of possible Tesla data protection breaches, but it was too early for further comment.
Germany’s Handelsblatt reported on Thursday that Elon Musk’s Tesla had allegedly failed to adequately protect data from customers, employees and business partners, citing 100 gigabytes of confidential data leaked by a whistleblower.
“We are aware of the Handelsblatt story and we are looking into it,” said a spokesperson for the AP data watchdog in the Netherlands, where Tesla’s European headquarters is located.
They declined all comment on whether the agency might launch or have launched an investigation, citing policy. The Dutch agency was informed by its counterpart in the German state of Brandenberg.
Handelsblatt said Tesla notified the Dutch authorities about the breach, but the AP spokesperson said they were not aware if the company had made any representations to the agency.
Tesla was not immediately available for comment on Friday on the Handelsblatt report, which said customer data could be found “in abundance” in a data set labelled “Tesla Files”.
The data protection office in Brandenburg, which is home to Tesla’s European gigafactory, described the data leak as “massive”.
“I can’t remember such a scale,” Brandenburg data protection officer Dagmar Hartge said, adding that the case had been handed to the Dutch authorities who would be responsible if the allegations led to an enforcement action.
The Dutch authorities has several weeks to decide whether to deal with the case as part of a European procedure, she added.
The files include tables containing more than 100,000 names of former and current employees, including the social security number of Tesla CEO Musk, along with private email addresses, phone numbers, salaries of employees, bank details of customers and secret details from production, Handelsblatt reported.
The breach would violate the GDPR, it said.
If such a violation was proved, Tesla could be fined up to 4% of its annual sales, which could be 3.26 billion euros.
German union IG Metall said the revelations were “disturbing” and called on Tesla to inform employees about all data protection violations and promote a culture in which staff could raise problems and grievances openly and without fear.
“These revelations … fit with the picture that we have gained in just under two years,” said Dirk Schulze, IG Metall incoming district manager for Berlin, Brandenburg and Saxony.