Tesla has been granted document emergency preservation subpoenas on a number of tech giants in a trade-secrets lawsuit. It alleges that former Tesla technician Martin Tripp hacked an operating system and leaked gigabytes of secrets to outsiders.
Tripp claims that he leaked the information to warn customers and investors about the vehicles damaged battery modules in Model 3 cars. The former employee has since deleted the files, in what Tesla describes as ‘covering his tracks’.
“Absent leave to serve these subpoenas, critical evidence of Tripp’s unlawful activities will forever be lost, causing obvious and severe prejudice to Tesla and potentially preventing justice from being served,” said Tesla’s lawyers.
Microsoft is one of the companies served with a subpoena, as well as Apple, Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, DropBox, OpenWhisper, and AT&T. Trip claims that components were stored dangerously and that as much as 40% of the raw materials used to produce batteries need to be scrapped or reworked.
It’s not yet clear if Microsoft will fight the request as it did the DoJ with overseas data, and the others are yet to respond publically. It could potentially stop information being deleted on both OneDrive and Outlook.
Lack of Representation
Tesla claims that this information was exaggerated, and claims of new manufacturing equipment delays are outright false. Tripp left the company’s Gigafactory in October 2017, but was fired in mid-June.
According to Tripp, he doesn’t have the funds for legal representation, which have been quoted as up to $400,000, but disputes the claims. The employee says Tesla staff initially told him to delete the documents in view of three people, before requesting he preserve them at a later date. Further, he denies any hacking claims.
“I do not know how to code, definitely never logged into any computers I didn’t have [issued] to me, and DEFINITELY don’t know how to get data that keeps feeding to outside Tesla,” he said to Ars Technica.
“When I was running [the] query I wasn’t concerned because it was part of my job. When I found out about the 732 potentially punctured cells that are in cars driving around right now, that’s when I became so concerned about public safety and felt I had to do something.”
Tesla is pursuing $1,000,000 in damages.