Tesla sues ex-employee who claims whistleblower status
Jun 25, 2018, 01:22
In a statement to Reuters, Tesla noted that the company still expects to grow its solar and battery business over time.
A former employee hacked into computers at Tesla's Nevada battery factory, stole confidential information and combined it with falsehoods in leaks to the media, the electric vehicle maker alleged in a federal lawsuit. There's still no suggestion that the employee had any higher agenda than settling a petty dispute with Tesla.
Tesla lawyers have asked for a court order to inspect Tripp's computers, emails, online messages and phone calls. The software implemented by Tripp would routinely send collected sensitive information to third parties alongside the information gleaned directly from the photos and videos that Tripp took. The lawsuit states that "Tripp has so far agreed about creating software that hacked the Tesla MOS (Manufacturing Operating System) and transferred gigabytes of Tesla's data to external parties".
In addition, "he included large quantities that were not scrap from 2018 at all, but that were instead items such as materials from a year ago that had already been included in Tesla's 2017 financials, or that were simply serial numbers assigned as part of routine system testing to components that were never even made".
Now it has come out that the man behind the alleged theft that triggered this missive is former Tesla Gigafactory employee Martin Tripp. Tripp's hacking of Tesla systems was seemingly created to export confidential information - not delay the manufacturing process or cause fires - and it appears that all of his actions were retaliation against Tesla for perceived mistreatment, rather than industrial espionage. The suit also indicated that Tesla had only begun to know the extent of Tripp's illegal activities leaving room to stipulate that more details would be revealed.
Tripp also said he had been alarmed by what he learned while an employee, including what he claimed were hundreds of Model 3s that had dangerously punctured batteries.
Tripp, attorneys wrote, also gave journalists false information about the company, including claims that defective batteries had been used in Tesla's Model 3 sedans.
A Tesla representative declined to comment on the number of solar installation facilities the company is closing but toldBusiness Insider that cuts to the company's energy division were consistent with the company's overall rate of 9%.
Tesla is seeking relief under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, in addition to Nevada's own trade secret statute. While its ability to increase the rate of Model 3production is an important metric for shareholders and financial analysts, Anand cautioned the company against prioritizing quantity over quality.
UPDATE: In an email to Cheddar on Friday, Tesla said Tripp is in no way a whistleblower and that he stole information through duplicitous means.
In the suit, Tesla stated the allegations Tripp made were false.
But quickly he grew disillusioned after seeing what he called the company's waste, unsustainable practices and "how Elon was lying to investors about how many cars they were making".
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