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Tesla won’t give drivers their own crash data without a court order (consumeraffairs.com)
402 points by danso 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 282 comments



This is a bunch of PR nonsense.

> When asked why Tesla has an apparent policy requiring drivers who want their own data to file for a subpoena, a spokesperson framed it as a privacy issue.

> “We handle all customer data in accordance with our Owner’s Manual and privacy policy, which clearly outlines the type of data we collect and the lengths that we go to protect a customers’ privacy in the process,” Tesla said via email, referencing back to a statement on the Tesla website about the company’s data collection practices.

You can pay a third party $1000 to access the data, or Telsa will publicly shame your driving if they think you are in the wrong during a crash, but they really need to fight you to protect your privacy from yourself?


That's not even accessing Tesla's data. That's just accessing the airbag system's event data recorder, which is a US-mandated device in the airbag controller, not a Tesla thing.

Airbag controllers have a circular buffer of the last 15 seconds or so of the vehicle basics - speed, steering angle, acceleration, braking. No GPS. That data can usually be retrieved from the wreckage after a crash. This requires physical access to the vehicle. The data is used to analyze airbag failures, especially unwanted airbag deployments, and for crash reconstruction.

Airbag controller data is much less extensive than what Tesla seems to sending back to the mothership.


Ah, how wonderful that the GDPR is now in place, making this as easy as issuing a subject access request.


Only if you are in the EU. Many Tesla drivers aren't.


If Tesla has a branch or subsidiary or something similar in the EU, then GDPR applies regardless of where the data is actually processed or where the data subject is.


No. If you're a US citizen* doing business with a US-based company you don't have the right to request your own data, even if that company also does business in Europe.

* and there are European citizen dual passport shenanigans


If it is a US company that does business in Europe, but is not established in the Union, you are correct.

If the company is established in the Union, then GDPR applies to all personal data processing it does. See Article 3(1): "This Regulation applies to the processing of personal data in the context of the activities of an establishment of a controller or a processor in the Union, regardless of whether the processing takes place in the Union or not."

The question, then, is Tesla merely a company that is offering goods and services to people in the Union, but not itself established in the Union, or is Tesla established in the Union?


What does "established in the union" even mean?


I read it as based/headquartered in the European Union.


In the United States, "The Union" is sometimes a referral to the union of the states, e.g. the United States. I assume you're talking about the European Union, but since I'm a U.S. Person, I'm not really sure.


yes European Union


If it has a US subsidiary (which is fairly likely for tax etc) then that entity has to give you your data.


And who has jurisdiction to enforce that? Can a US citizen (who has never been in the EU) sue in an EU court to compel release of the US citizen's data from the US division/unit/hq/whatever? Does that court have authority to compel the release by the US division? Can the EU court compel a US court to find similarly?

Point: how is the GDPR ever going to be enforced between US citizens and US companies-with-an-EU-presence?


Agreed, it’s not likely to be enforced. Note that you cannot sue anyone over the GDPR, however. That is a fundamental misunderstanding that I keep seeing repeated - the GDPR only gives people the right to report companies to the relevant authority. The authority can then investigate and issue a warning/fine as they see fit.


> Note that you cannot sue anyone over the GDPR, however. That is a fundamental misunderstanding that I keep seeing repeated - the GDPR only gives people the right to report companies to the relevant authority

It also gives the right to to sue. See Articles 79, 80, and 82.

There's a nice summary here: https://privacylawblog.fieldfisher.com/2016/getting-to-know-...


That's interesting. Traditionally European law eschewed private rights of action in favor of public regulators, while the U.S. heavily favored private enforcement. But now Europe is increasingly providing for private action. Whereas the U.S. is increasingly disfavoring private action (e.g. limitations on class actions), and attempts to extend public enforcement are failing (e.g. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau).

Here's an interesting law review article examining these developments: The Arc and Architecture of Private Enforcement Regimes in the United States and Europe: A View Across the Atlantic, https://law.unh.edu/sites/default/files/media/rathod_-_final...

Personally in terms of public policy I prefer private action, but maybe that's because I'm American. Private actions are usually predicated on actual, individualized harm, whereas regulators can strong-arm companies without any evidence of actual harm. Theoretically it makes for a better business environment, especially for startups, legal anxiety about nuisance lawsuits notwithstanding[1]. But private action doesn't scale; if you don't permit aggregation of claims (i.e. class actions) then private enforcement can't redress systemic behaviors.[2]

[1] The anxiety is invariably overblown. I think it's because most people's eyes will glaze over when hearing stories about regulator enforcement actions. But stories about slip & fall lawsuits are both legion and relatable; like with terrorism, people develop a false sense of the legal risks and costs.

[2] I mean, it could work without aggregation if you changed the rules of litigation to really streamline individual claims, such as by shifting the burden of proof onto the defendant for certain categories of behavior. Then it would sort of act like a dynamic tax that responded to business practices. Keep your customers happy and you pay a minimum, baseline tax--the cost-of-doing-business that is whatever amount you want to pay out for fraudulent claims, not unlike what businesses already do with accounts payable and shrinkage. Do something that might upset your customers and you'll have to face an onslaught of cases that either require a quick payout or costly litigation. I imagine such a regime would look much like that with class actions, with specialized law firms that identify and aggregate plaintiffs to benefit from economies of scale, and take a cut of the proceeds. But it would still make it much easier for people to prosecute small claims themselves.


> Can a US citizen (who has never been in the EU) sue in an EU court to compel release of the US citizen's data from the US division/unit/hq/whatever?

No, they'd sue to get it from the EU one. As it's part of the same company. The rest of your questions are predicated on the core misunderstanding you have of this so don't apply.

> how is the GDPR ever going to be enforced between US citizens and US companies-with-an-EU-presence?

4 percent of the organization's annual global revenue will work quite well I'd imagine.


In addition to the other reply, “it’s part of the same company” is incorrect. These organizations are related but aren’t “the same company.” They’re intentionally organized this way. Ireland can go after Apple Ireland, but they’ve got no jurisdiction to go after Apple, Inc in California.


You actually seem to be misunderstanding since GDPR is not about having people sue. They can only report companies and regulators take it from there, if they want to. Also 4% of revenue has nothing to do with enforcement and reach of the EU agencies against US companies.


There's a right to sue, which includes suing for compensation, in Articles 79 and 82.


You don't need to sue in court, you can make a complaint to a covering Data Protection Agency. i.e. where the corporation's office is. They are supposed to take care of it, and they will have the power to force the local company to do things (or fine them).


If the customer is in the US (or any other non-EU jurisdiction) they don't have to follow GDPR for them.


The GDPR also holds for European Tesla drivers outside the EU.


I don't believe that's true. For processors outside of the Union, it applies to "data subjects in the Union" or "monitoring [...] within the Union".

https://gdpr-info.eu/art-3-gdpr/


Does this mean that if a US citizen goes on holiday to a country in the European Union, that they are a data subject in the European Union?


Yes, as I understand it, that is correct. When you are in a country that is a member of the EU, your data held by companies is subject to the GDPR.


If I go on holiday to an EU country, which (Google) emails, chats, searches become subject to GDPR? All those sent/received only during that holiday? Is Google (or whoever) really going to attach some metadata just to that time frame saying data collected on that date range is subject to GDPR?


Doesn't this mean that even a US company which explicitly verifies it only works with US citizens must still IP block all of Europe to comply?

EDIT: A nasty surprise that might be, too, if it turns out there was important data via that service that you wanted to access abroad but couldn't.


Only if they actually have a legal presence in the EU. If they are a US company that has no legal entity established in the EU, the laws of the EU have no effect on them.


Thanks for the info.


> must still IP block all of Europe to comply

It could comply the normal way.


Is this true? Doesn't the GDPR only applied to those within the EU (i.e., resident or not), or anyone, anywhere, if the company handling the data is in the EU?


No, GDPR only applies if (i) you're in the EU or (ii) the org with the personal data is in the EU.

(i) might be enforible against a US corp if they have something in the EU to do business


just drive over to the EU. Is there a supercharge in the atlantic yet?


Maybe the next big thing will be an electric boat with floating chargers powered by an solar array.


I can understand not letting a rando off the street see the data, or taking extra measures to authenticate that you’re the actual owner at the time of the recording, but otherwise “privacy” doesn’t seem like a good enough reason.

More likely it’s “we want to be the only one who can see it.”

Semi-related: Reminds me of the time Amazon promoted a “recommend books to your friends” feature, and someone used it to make a recommendation to me with a vaguely threatening message attached. I asked them who it was and they screamed bloody murder about protecting customer privacy and I’m like “really? Privacy of your identity to a friend you’re recommending a book to? As a feature that you’re allowing to be repurposed into an anonymous messaging service?” (Eventually they relented.)


I doubt this will have much positive PR reception. More likely this is to minimize liability cases. However I am not sure how I feel about this. Is it fair to require Tesla to provide data that might increase the chances of liability, but not require other manufacturers to record and report the same?


It is certainly done in many other cases - it is often illegal to withhold information you have without being mandated to collect that information, such as when selling a house with defects.


So this is something that has always kind of bugged me about Tesla. If you have an accident, they are more than happy to drop the crash data "proving" that you were at fault, look at the recent stories about running into a road barrier and the back of a firetruck for recent examples of this. And, of course, they don't ask you first if they can release it.

However, if you want the data, you can't have it… you have to go to court to get it.


Accompanying this tight information control your Tesla can only be repaired at a Tesla dealership, with tight control over parts and labor prices.

https://gas2.org/2015/01/06/this-is-what-30000-of-damage-loo... and lots of forum posts out there on this


A bunch of horror stories of months-long turnarounds for fender-benders too. https://jalopnik.com/teslas-potential-body-shop-backlog-nigh...


Yeah, Tesla is as guilty as anyone as pushing forward the destruction of the concept of owning the stuff you buy.


> If you have an accident, they are more than happy to drop the crash data "proving" that you were at fault...

Indeed. It is disturbing that Tesla is not in the slightest bit concerned by how obvious it is that it is lying about its motives, as that indicates that it does not see any downside from doing so.


GDPR doesn't sound so bad now, does it? :)


Well, I'm (living as an) European, so I actually support GDPR anyway. But yes, I always wondered exactly what grounds they used to publish some of this data.


I'm curious why you think that being European implies you also support GDPR.


You have succinctly, albeit unintentionally, summed up why the GDPR is often seen as bad. The way I read it "the end goal is good and/or some part of it is good, so it is all good, right?" Requiring transparency requirements of companies like Tesla is laudable without a bunch of baggage and large sweeping changes. Unfortunately people often can't see the difference between intent and implementation and assume you are for both or against both.


It still does.


No.

You know what sounds nice?

Having the choice to not buy a Tesla.

I don’t need Government™ to tell me what kind of contracts I can agree to.


> Having the choice to not buy a Tesla.

If Tesla's business model proves successful, all other car makers will copy it, and then it doesn't matter which brand you buy.

Look at the TV market. You technically have the choice not to buy a "Smart TV," which sells your info to god-knows how many third-parties and spies on you 24/7. But good luck finding one. Sony, Samsung, LG? They all have the same spyware features. Your only option is to buy brandless Chinese TVs with terrible picture and worse sound quality.

How long until all manufacturers start acting like Tesla? What choice will we have then? Start walking everywhere like our ancient ancestors?


Can't you just not connect them to the Internet?


For now, yes, but if the business model is successful enough (particularly for something as expensive as a car), is there anything stopping a manufacturer bundling in their own Internet connection?


The "Smart" software also tends to add a lot of latency, which may or may not be acceptable depending on your circumstances.


You can try. I recently learned that Ethernet-over-HDMI is a thing: now that you know that, you can potentially disable it on the other end of the connection, but lots of people are connecting their TVs to the internet without even knowing.


The protocol supports it yes, but I think you'd have a hard time finding a single person who has ever inadvertently connected their TV to the internet through HDMI. Hell I think you'd have a hard time finding a TV that even supports this functionality, and if you do my bet is it's a specialty thing made for the hospitality/service industry.


This is what I did.


How about create a purchasers’ union and use your collective purchasing power to influence the behavior of companies, the way that companies use their power to control consumers.

I don’t have any problem with your union; in fact, I might join such a union. Just don’t force everyone to join it, which is what happens when laws are made for everyone as a result of the bad decisions of some.

I don’t know if such a union is legal to form… which I guess illustrates the point that @gonational is trying to make; too many laws can bite you.


First of all, I don't think it would be practically feasible to do this in the real world. As the old saying goes, if person A finds a way to get 100 million dollars by making 100 million people lose $1 each, he would have every incentive and tool to get that money and no one would have any incentive to stop him. Imagine the enormous costs of forming a purchasers' union, both direct and transaction costs. You can never convince enough people to join one to make it have any negotiation power.

Second and more importantly, the companies have found a way to circumvent one of the most important and fundamental pillars of our civilization, access to judicial system, through forced arbitration and class action waivers. If they had the power to get rid of something this fundamental, I am sure they will find a way to defeat any attempt to form a union like the one you advocate though laws, contracts, EULAs, etc.


The big problem with government and laws is that the more government and laws there are the more an advantage big companies have, since big companies are the only single entities that can stand up against large and complex structures such as government and legal systems.

Pertaining a purchasers’ union, I don’t mean something that would bureaucratically bogged down purchasing. I mean something like a club where you only purchase from those companies approved by the club, and everybody in the club gets to vote on which companies will be allowed to be purchased from.


Sure, very simple logic. That is of course until Comcast becomes the only internet provider in your area. I prefer my gov to have my back on those simple things just in case a particular situation that makes it easy for anyone to screw me over arises.


OK, let’s see if we can think of one solution to that problem… Oh! Enforce existing anti-trust laws!

This, plus the fact that the increasingly monopolistic reality of ISP in the United States is a direct result of overregulation.

We don’t need more laws. We need to enforce some of the most basic laws that have existed fore more than a century.


In your opinion, what is the perfect number of laws anyone should have? 10^4? 10^5?


Unregulated capitalism by no means naturally prevents large monopolies being formed. That's why the government got involved in "trust-busting" in the first place.


This only seems to happen for accidents that turn into national news, speculating that Tesla was at fault (or with drivers actively accusing them of fault). Their response is (understandably I think) to defend themselves when they can show they weren't at fault. I'd assume that if you have an accident and don't make it a media story, they don't publish your driving errors.


So something that is entirely outside of your control may determine if Tesla shames you in front of millions of people and violates your privacy? That's the defense you're arguing?

Plus Tesla never releases the crash data, they release select snippets that make them look good. For example, the famous "six seconds" claim in the barrier incident but absolutely zero data on their automatic emergency braking's actions, what autopilot was doing, what sensors detected, or any of their other systems.


Worth noting that one of the issues is Tesla's data, such as sensing hand placement, might inherently be problematic. As r/teslamotors users pointed out in the wake of Tesla's response to the Utah crash, AutoPilot apparently has false negative problems: failing to detect when hands on the wheels:

https://www.reddit.com/r/teslamotors/comments/8jz5tl/tesla_r...

> Ok so here's what bugs the shit out of me: The overwhelming majority of the time that my car nags me to put my hand on the wheel, my hand's already on the wheel, I'm just not applying enough torque for the car to "see" that because my left elbow is resting on the window sill and my hand is resting on the 9oclock position. So I give it a quick wiggle and then we're friends again. This means the car logged a "no hands" event.

In the case of the fire truck, the driver pretty much admitted to fault. But what about the California man (i.e. the "six seconds" incident) who died by running into a median? We don't know for sure if his hands were on or off, or when, or if the car properly detected it. Tesla was kicked off the NTSB investigation for releasing data. Tesla's argument was that it had the right to make a defense, but I think it's reasonable to argue that NTSB's rule is to prevent such selective release and framing of data:

https://www.ntsb.gov/news/press-releases/Pages/NR20180412.as...


The fact remains that they're 'completely dedicated' to your privacy including from yourself up until putting that data out benefits the company. So they have access to that data only in ways that benefit and exculpate the company while you as the driver and source of that data cannot use the data about yourself to defend yourself without going through the courts!


So I personally understand that _Tesla wants this_. I just don't agree that Tesla should be allowed to do this. It will be interesting to see what happens when the next European accident happens now that GDPR is in place, since I am pretty sure that they do not have _explicit_ consent for this. _I_ have _definitely_ not given explicit consent for this, and even if it is written into the contract in a vague way, that will not be good enough to stop a GDPR infraction.

And that is something that I support the GDPR for.


I am still a bit amazed that we haven't had a major lawsuit that heavily fines/restricts most of Tesla's behavior at this point. They seem to think a car that they've sold is still theirs, and that they can do these sorts of things. Another big one is using the Autopilot sensors to collect data to send back to Tesla even if you don't buy or use Autopilot, or their refusal to "activate" a salvaged vehicle that you legally have a title for if they don't like how it was repaired or who serviced it.

Cars are a significant property which, unlike a lot of other items, even comes with a proper title of ownership, it's hard to imagine any of Tesla's behavior regarding the car's data, activation practices, etc. would hold up in a court of law.

Given that most people who can afford Teslas can afford lawyers, I'm kinda surprised nobody's gone for the payday.


Can a Tesla owner comment it they signed some sort of T&C related to this data? I wonder can Tesla be sued for revealing this data without owners' consent.


Tesla's privacy policy is worded to allow these kinds of disclosures:

https://www.tesla.com/about/legal

> Tesla may transfer and disclose information, including information that may or may not personally identify you, to third parties to comply with a legal obligation (including, but not limited to, subpoenas);...to verify or enforce our policies and procedures;...to prevent or stop activity we may consider to be, or to pose a risk of being, illegal, unethical or legally actionable; or to protect the rights, property, safety, or security of our products and services, Tesla, third parties, visitors, or the public, as determined by us in our sole discretion.


Is that even valid? They obviously can write anything they want but that doesn't make it right or legal.

Is only the owner allowed to drive a Tesla? Do any other drivers have to sign a document on the dashboard before starting?


I guess the data is built into the price of a Tesla? Would be nice if there was an option to pay not to be so heavily tracked.


Or to be citizen of a government that gave a damn.


The could price the data at $1M, a price no one would pay.


Can we make a law that all data collected by devices that I bought belongs to me? Yes, that includes everything the websites I visit send back to the mothership.


The question is, if it belongs to me, can I voluntarily give it up even under the known condition I can't ask for it back? I mean, it belongs to me right? That's where these laws often run afoul. You can have more freedom with consequences, or less freedom with restrictions.


Be clear what you mean by voluntary.

I agree that preventing a person to choose to sell something they own is a restriction on their freedom. But problems arise when the negotiation of that exchange is unilateral, relegated to EULAs and contracts which are incomprehensible, non-negotiable, and mandatory to purchase the product, and performed in a less-than-perfectly-efficient market.

It would be one thing if I could buy a Tesla, a Nest, or log onto a site with ads, and the process included a step where I could elect to share my data, to not share my data, or to give them the data and promise not to ask for it back, with different price points for each.

It's another thing when giving people the freedom to give up certain rights results in all manufacturers requiring people to exercise that freedom in order to purchase products.

The market is far from efficient. There is no car that's just like a Tesla but costs more by the value of this data exchange. There is no negotiation of the contract with Tesla, it's built into the purchase price and required by the legal department.

Observing that the market is pervasively inefficient in a way that leads to a bad outcome, and devising regulations that correct the inefficiency, is precisely why we have laws and governments.


I'd be fine if the only way to get a Tesla was to deliberately sign over your rights to the data. But nobody reads the EULA and the vast majority of consumers have no idea that this is something they're agreeing to. I'd really like for us as a society to rethink how consumer consent could work in a way that doesn't require everyone to be a lawyer. But given that most of the rules around this have been constructed implicitly by lawyers and judges I'm not sure how that could happen.


What about used car sales? Are you now unable to sell your car, unless the buyer agrees to the TOS?


This is precisely how covenants work on real estate, and is how things like homeowners' associations perpetuate themselves: the original builder, or the first owner to join the HOA, attaches a covenant which will require all future owners to also join the HOA and follow the HOA's policies.

In prior times, such covenants were also used to try to racially segregate property, by forbidding sale to a person of a race the covenant's creator disliked (such covenants are technically still valid, but unenforceable by US courts).

And they're sometimes used for other things, too; I recall there was a house near my college's campus that the college wanted to purchase and use, but the owner had set up a restrictive covenant that would forbid any later purchaser/inheritor from selling it to the college.


[flagged]


So, have you read through and completely understood the 39 pages of TOS and Privacy Policy docs required to post on HN? Do you consider those who have not to also be "idiots"?


Data isn't "property", it should be an unalienable right, like an author's moral rights over his work: it's yours but you can't sell it or otherwise dispose of it.


Isn't authors selling the rights to their work basically how the entire book industry works?


That's the copying right, not the moral right. The moral right is the right to be identified as the creator and the right to maintain the integrity of the work in subsequent copying.


So, they can't sell that, as the GP is proposing, or they generally just don't under the current economic system? Because I'm pretty sure Dean Koontz does a variation of this, where he outlines the story but someone else actually writes the book, and it's published under his name.


That's a work-for-hire, in which the authorship of the work (and thus the moral rights) is agreed by all participants before the work starts to be FooCorporation.

Classic work-for-hire includes ghostwritten novels and autobiographies, corporate reports, web pages, and most likely every line of code you've ever written while employed by a corporation.

There are jurisdictions where moral rights cannot be sold, and others where they can, but work-for-hire nearly always sidesteps the issue.


It depends on the jurisdiction. In some countries like the UK they can be indeed waived, but in others like France moral rights are inalienable -- any contract wherein you give up these rights is null and void by law.


Selling the rights to publish your book is different from giving up all the rights you have over your book. The latter is something that (IANAL...) you can't do in many jurisdictions.


I suppose GP's implication is that that known condition won't be permissible.


If that law gets passed, you'll no longer "own" the device you bought that collects that data, but will be granted a license to use it.


I'm sure clever lawyers can come up with a definition of "own" that excludes such trickery.


it would be funny to write license agreements for money. They don't actually "own" the money you "gave" them, you just grant them a license to use your money. Just reciprocate the license. Just put the EULA sticker on all your big bills and they are forced to whatever you want, right?


When computers were new, IBM would not sell computers to customers, but rent them out. Since most people nowadays seem to pay for cell phones, tablets, etc. in monthly installments and “need” to get a new model as soon as the one they have is fully paid off, I’m sure a jump to leasing/renting devices is a very small one in practice.


You already are renting/paying a monthly use license fee if you "buy" a phone from your carrier with a monthly payment and the ability to upgrade after x months.

I did this by accident when I "bought" an iPhone a few years ago and was told I couldn't keep it after I water damaged it and got a replacement. I started buying devices outright after that.


Landline telephones used to operate similarly, before the massive AT&T breakup. Time is a wheel.


considering how some manufacturers are monetizing the center console and support applications; go check out onstar to see an example but Audi does it to; you can bet they would want to charge for access as they are providing a service to store it.

Got to amazed at chutzpah some companies have, my favorite whipping boy is Onstar. Here my nice little car has the ability to notify authorities in a crash BUT only if I pay for that service. Now on one hand I would not mind a nice small fee per month, say five bucks or less for something that would infrequently used if ever, but with Onstar the lowest cost is 24.99 a month!!

fwiw, when I had my car new they would even send driving reports, like when the system decided i accelerated to hard, braked too hard, and such. Real joy in what they collect AND sell to third parties


Laws are flexible, it's easy enough to cover that loophole.


There's no real justification for anyone having that right. The device manufacturer/website owner/etc does the work of creating the data, yet you think it's yours?


I have no legal basis for this but it seems apparent to me that there is a difference between data you generate vs data generated for you. For instance, in Microsoft Word if I type a book, I obviously own that data because I myself entered it into the system. However I don't believe I can claim ownership over passive data that was collected during my use of the system.


If I kill someone with a hammer, is that the hammer company's liability? If not, then creation of an object (once sold) does not warrant ownership of said product and accompanying data.


> There's no real justification for anyone having that right. The device manufacturer/website owner/etc does the work of creating the data, yet you think it's yours?

That's BS. The real justification for anyone having that right is that 1) the data is about them and 2) they own the machine that collected/created the data.

> The device manufacturer/website owner/etc does the work of creating the data, yet you think it's yours?

They did the work of creating a device for sale. After the sale, their rights to the device end and the data should be owned by the new owner.


Does this mean that when I crash my Tesla into someone, Tesla is liable for it? After all, they did all the work of creating the car...


No, it's my device that creates the data, so it is mine. Otherwise, does the typewriter manufacturer own the stories you type?


I agree that you should own the data that was created because of your interaction with the device, but I do not agree that the reason is that you own the device.

Here's an example: You go to the library (or a privately owned web cafe), and write your stories there. It doesn't matter that you don't own the device. It's still your data.


I don't think that analogy holds up. Maybe: does the typewriter manufacturer own meta data such as letter frequency, average work length, etc that their product calculates based on your usage?


No, of course not.

Once money exchanged hands, it's not their product, it's mine, as is _all_ of its output, including logs, etc.

Otherwise, I'd call it 'spyware'.


This already isn't the case in many instances where you don't actually "own" the thing, you just have a license to use it.


If I buy a machine that manufactures widgets I own the widgets. Why should it be different for machines that produce bits?


You mean GDPR?


No, I mean all data, not just PII. If a Nest measures the temperature in my house I want to own those data points.


It's often data about you, in which case it's linked to you in which case it falls under GDPR. This crash data is definitely about you, as general driving data would be. Your home's temperature won't be, so GDPR indeed won't apply there, but GDPR is a good first step. (I mean, EU already had it since 1995, but in USA it would be a good first step.)

I agree that your proposal would be a good extension. Or at least that it should be the default, and you'd need to sign for being okay with not owning the data. Or that those devices contain warning stickers.


If the nest information is tied to your address (which is clearly personal), doesn't that make it personal information?


If they can retrieve whose house it was, then yes. But if they send it to the mothership and aggregate or anonymize it, then not. For example if they show you your house's temperature history, I assume it falls under GDPR because it's tied to your account so it's included with data about you.


Then, and I'm being serious: don't put a Nest in your house. You know what these things are, and you know what the company who makes them does.


Nest shouldn't have any rights to that data any more than Microsoft should have rights to novels written in Word.


I don't have a Nest, but it becomes increasingly difficult to buy things that don't produce data. I think we should adapt our laws before everything you can buy is "smart".


I get your point but I think arguing information about the state of your home is PII would be fairly straightforward.


Then pick any non-PII data point you like.


That doesn't really work because if it isn't PII, then they don't know who it belongs to (not having even your name is a field, or else it would be PII) and can't verify it belongs to you before giving it to you.

Like visiting websites while not logged into anything in generating tons of data, but it can't be easily linked back to you.

It would be possible to link some of it back to session IDs or other things you could be linked back to your device, but that doesn't show it was you using the device, so they may be releasing data belonging to someone else using your device to you. And that is before we get into possibilities like cookie hijacking or other methods of falsely tying your device to that generated data.


You're bringing up a separate argument. One worth having, but not in this thread.

The argument here is that the company knows who the data belongs to, and the person above is saying that they shouldn't be able to abstract "you" away from the data and claim it as their own property.. especially because, as we know, most anonymization techniques have serious flaws that in fact do allow individuals to be identified after close scrutinization.


The temperature of your house at certain times can be used to figure out when you were at home, what rooms you were in, when you went to bed, if you're just at home alone, or someone else was at home when you were there too.

Sounds like PII!


So, if you have a DSLR camera on a tripod set to a timer, and you do not actually take the picture, you have no claim to copyright of that image, even though the device you owned created it?


Wasn't this a copyright claim against Wikipedia, where an ape picked up a camera and took a selfie, and Wikipedia et al decided that meant the camera owner had no copyright claim over the image?


yes.


The court system is not, in fact, a dumb automaton that is bamboozled by questions like this.


... Yet. I read this in a cynical 90's AT&T commercial "You Will..."


Timed photo definitely has copyright. Continuous surveillance footage is an open question.

But the post you're replying to wasn't about copyright at all.


I'd like to go one step further and want the power to delete it, or be deleted, when I want.

If I'm allowed to take the 5th to not incriminate myself and not reveal my memory (data in my head), I should be similarly allowed to delete my data when it is my data in my device.

It'd be an interesting case to take to the Supreme Court.


If you wrote it down in a journal then you no longer have the right to claim 5th amendment privileges on what was written. Why would it be the case that what you put into your smart phone is more protected than what you write in a book?

http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=...


Excellent, that is exactly the kind of answer I was looking for and it seems the link you mentioned above almost directly applies.


I think they would view that as destruction of evidence.

The next step in your scenario is "that security camera has data on me, I want it deleted".


Not really, especially if the cameras are 3rd party owned. My comment was explicitly about my own devices, with the argument being that they are an extension of my brain/memory as opposed to evidence in the traditional sense.

The link provided by wang_li applies and it seems such questions have come up in the past in front of courts, and honestly I won't be surprised if they come up again.


I believe GDPR does cover the security camera scenario, there was a comment here about a week ago from someone who successfully petitioned the German police to delete all footage of him at some protest


https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/cctv/ at least in the UK, you can request people who have CCTV footage of you, and also note that people have to delete CCTV when they no longer need it (how long that should be is arguable), so people have to delete CCTV without being prompted to. and this is not new with the GDPR, it's from the old law, from 1998, I think.


Can we please go back to selling physical things instead of EULAs? If I bought the car it's mine along with all the data I generate while inside of MY vehicle. This is why I will not buy newer computer filled vehicles; they don't belong to you anymore.


Welcome to the next stage of the economy - now that we've created products for almost all daily needs, it's time to turn them into services. sigh.

I'm with you and 'adrianN on this. I hate this direction and wish we could turn it back somewhat, or at least cover for the negative aspects of servicization of products. Regulation might be a necessary tool for that.


It's starting to become maddening when you look around you and realize that in a few short years everything is shifting to SaaS. The part that really bothers me is it feels degrading in the sense that you are not allowed to control your own property anymore. This is when technology becomes oppressive.


The hegemony is coming. There will be a not insignificant portion that is unwilling to embrace this.


Actually, I think we need a new, stronger rule. You must have guaranteed strong controls (the ability to review it, at the very least) over all data generated by virtue of your existence as a free agent.

In the future, everything will have sensors in it. If we leave things as they are now, your Samsung refrigerator will be reporting back what you eat, and when. A good place to sell that data is to grocery stores and General Mills.

That's great if you want your doctor to know that information, or if you need an alibi; "your honor, I was eating yoghurt at the time".

Oh wait - bad example, because you own the refrigerator. My point was that in the future, when you go outside, everything will have recording devices in it. So, the public spaces and government rituals you are subjected to need to be dealt with, as well.

Property rights no longer suffice for these situations.


I may be wrong, but that’s exactly what GDPR tries to achieve.


Just a point of clarification as I was confused reading the description. The $1000 to access data isn't on an event by event basis. It's for the cables to connect to the EDR so presumably once you have them you can access all the data in the EDR at any time. http://www.crashdatagroup.com/tesla-edr-kit/


They can get the data remotely from a smashed car on the side of the road to slander the driver. But somehow if you want it, a $1000 cable is totally necessary.


Is it really that difficult to use a hacked femtocell and MitM the Tesla's telemetrics?

And remember this story:

https://arstechnica.com/cars/2016/03/man-hacks-tesla-firmwar...


Communication with the mothership is done through a VPN. The only way to listen in is to have root access to the cid (that computer in the middle with the large screen).


I imagine this policy would have to be different for those in the UK, right? I thought I had read that the Data Protection Act (of 1998) forced companies to send data in situations they would not for other countries:

https://www.gov.uk/respond-data-protection-request

> Under data protection law, anyone can ask if your organisation holds personal information about them - you must respond to their request as soon as possible, and within one month at most.


Yes, and the whole of the EU. The Data Protection Act is in the process of being replaced with a new Act that incorporates the GDPR into UK law. The GDPR expands that right further.


Crash data is not necessarily Personally Identifiable Information


You added the word "Identifiable." The DPA isn't limited to just that.


PII is a term coined in the US


police reports of accidents are public record, you should be able to pretty easily go from crash data to personal identity based on public records. Sounds like PII to me.


It seems like Tesla's on the fast-track to an Uber-tier reputation.


Yeah, if any imperfect company is instantly equated with a pure evil company, then sure. Seems fair.

But, then again, I can see how you'd think Tesla was pure evil too if you buy into all the endless nonsense published about them without doing any research.


What is it you think is "nonsense" or inaccurate?


Not going to get sucked into this. If you have to ask, it implies you already believe that all of the dozens of articles published daily have total merit, in which case nothing I'm going to say will convince you because your position is pretty well set in concrete.


If I'm not already convinced Tesla is being unfairly attacked, I'm not amenable to changing my position? I find that line hard to understand.


True, perhaps you are amenable to it. But 95% of people encountered online already have their minds made up one way or the other pretty firmly, and I don't care to take the chance you're a unicorn.

Which begs the question, why do I comment in these discussions at all? I do not know.


You seem to be making quite a habit of it.


Don’t think I don’t know it. Sigh.


Oh boy, I was so excited to get a Tesla when the time finally came, but if they're still pulling this crap when that happens, guess I'm getting a Benz instead.


Try to get the data out of your GM or Ford airbag flash storage device (any vehicle with a data logger paired to the airbag subsystem, which is most cars on the road) and see how similar the process is.

More “journalistic” nonsense. I agree they have a lot of legitimate issues (cash flow, scaling, retention, working conditions, process maturity, overpromising) to deal with, but can’t journalists focus on those instead of clickbait?

Sidenote: if you take issue with this, sponsor a federal law to fix the problem through your legislator


Tesla's a new company, either they're holding themselves to a higher standard than the establishment or they aren't. If they're not then I'm going with the establishment. I can overlook a great great great many things in service of the cause of disrupting the auto industry.

But this? Asking me to take personal responsibility with no legal recourse? This is the line they can't ask me to cross. If this is fake news, fine, it'll come out. If it's not, then sorry Tesla, can't do it.


> Tesla's a new company, either they're holding themselves to a higher standard than the establishment or they aren't. If they're not then I'm going with the establishment. I can overlook a great great great many things in service of the cause of disrupting the auto industry.

They're not. They restrict access to the service manuals behind a ridiculously expensive subscription that's only provided in states where it's legally required. It costs $30 a day or $3000 a year.

Service manuals for other cars cost ~$50 for a hardcopy.

https://electrek.co/2017/01/30/tesla-opening-up-service-repl...

Tesla's attitude is almost like you don't own your car, you're just leasing it in perpetuity from Tesla for a one-time fee.


I'm fine with that, just don't ask me to take personal liability for your mistakes. That's the line this crosses. I expect society to eventually fix the repair issue and if it doesn't, I'm not too worried about getting priced out of the repair market after my warranty expires.

This affects me personally.


That’s for each consumer to decide of course. I bought my Model S fully knowing what I was getting into.

I consider them holding themselves to a higher standard, but as in politics, you can’t find someone who agrees with you 100% in office. Have to compromise, and this isn’t a hill I care to die on.

As I stated above, it’s a public policy issue, not Tesla specific.

> if you take issue with this, sponsor a federal law to fix the problem through your legislator


I fail to see how Tesla's refusal to release data is a public policy issue and that legislation is required to fix that state of affairs. They could, you know, just release the data. Then the onus is on the rest of the industry.

More to the point, Tesla's wish to be seen as a market disrupter is only going to hold as much water for me as their willingness to do it when it counts. This is one of those "when it counts" moments for me.


If they don't release the data, and other automakers don't release the data, it's industry standard behavior. The onus is on you, the consumer, to ask for regulation to fix the behavior if you want it fixed; not complain specifically about Tesla's behavior.


"We will be disruptive when we can seem to be more consumer-friendly unless it makes us look bad, at that point we'll just say 'that's the industry standard, sorry you're SOL!'".


Can't help unrealistic expectations. If you don't like the policy, don't buy the car.

I mean, it's a bit silly, no? Everyone complaining in this thread while Tesla churns out thousands of vehicles a week to a backlog of consumers willing to wait at least another year for their vehicle. To you, it might be an issue. To those who matter (Tesla investors, employees, and customers), it isn't. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ The market has spoken.


The people who are complaining in the posted article are fellow Tesla owners. They don't "matter" to Tesla (or to you, obviously)?

Not that Tesla owners should be the only ones interested in the policies of Tesla, one of the most high-valued car companies and potential industry leaders. I'm not an Android user but I pay attention to how they deal with privacy and security issues.


The Tesla PR machine has done everything it can to build hype and expectations, that didn’t come out of nowhere. As for don’t buy the car, given the increased rate of refunds, clearly that’s the trend. It is a bit silly though, for a business with a sky-high market cap to adopt a take it or leave it attitude about the sales they so desperately need.

The market also speaks by shorting Tesla, and with TSLA volatility on par with a cryptocurrency.


This sounds like the position of a diehard believer. Jesus never asked anyone to go to the cross with him. Putting the onus on me is like asking me to fix Rome so they don't have to execute him.

No, it was the act of going to the cross that made it possible for Rome to not crucify Christians in the future. Or for you non-Christians, an act of symbolism through self-sacrifice. If Tesla wants to be Jesus, it's going to have to get up on the cross. Otherwise nothing changes.


I'm going to put this another way. How much of Tesla's reputation was built on their approach to vehicle safety? That's great, I don't have to worry about my life when I get into a Tesla. But I'm in that weird position in the world where I can afford a Tesla, but not the burden of a legal case. I can look after myself, but I can't make the software not fuck up.

If Tesla can't shoulder that responsibility, I'm certainly not going to.


But what is not "industry standard", as far as I can tell, is to release user data without permission in press releases.


Can you point to an instance where GM/Ford published a user's data in a press release to defend itself?


Are you saying that it's a bad thing for Tesla to defend itself with its collected data?


No, but based on reading the article, it seems like Tesla owners are particularly engaged on this issue because they've seen how Tesla divulges user data to the public to defend themselves.


I would absolutely say that, especially if they turn around and refuse to release the data on other occasions for supposedly "privacy" reasons.


Will Mercedes Benz release your collected crash data to you?


Doesn't matter. They have an established history and have been making cars for almost a hundred years. I drive a Mazda now. If it's looking like drive-by-wire technology is too dangerous, I'll just keep driving that and hope my cruise control doesn't decide to cause an accident.


I don't quite follow the logic that it doesn't matter. If the reason for someone not to buy a Tesla is because they do (A), why is the alternative to buy from another manufacturer that also does (A)?


I don't need a reason to not buy Tesla, I need a reason to buy Tesla. Belief in Musk's vision and the awesomeness of the car was that reason. Without both of those things being true, there's no reason to buy something that new and untested. It's like asking me to buy a Kickstarter car.


Maybe there's an element to this that I'm simply missing, but I don't believe Musk's vision has changed, and Tesla's internal policies regarding the release of crash data to consumers doesn't say anything about the 'awesomeness' of the car itself. Your ownership experience of the car will be affected by Tesla's policies, for sure, but regardless of what Tesla does or does not do with crash data, the car itself doesn't change. That might be nuanced a bit by what Tesla can do so easily with OTA updates, but just speaking generally.

I have no real dog in this fight though. Any reasons you have to choose one car over the other are your own, and it's not my intent to criticize one choice or the other. The reasoning here just seems slightly difficult to follow.


Musk's vision for how safe you can be when you buy their car extends only to "you can't die in one of my cars." It apparently does not extend to "you can't bankrupt yourself in one of my cars if we fuck up."


Agreed. If I were in the market for a car, particularly an electric vehicle what Tesla does with crash data would probably be a very low priority, based on a presumption that I don't expect to get into a crash, nor the kind that would cause a situation in which I needed the data (since that possibility had never been available before in my past years of driving).


> Maybe there's an element to this that I'm simply missing,

From a consumer standpoint you're buying a black box controlled by a company that frequently behaves in a overtly hostile manner towards the "owners".

Imagine Apple not letting you use the accelerometer or GPS sensors in your phone. Instead they'd just collect telemetry from it. Now imagine you claim a "spontaneous shattering of the screen". To counter this, Apple publishes select pieces to show that the phone experienced acceleration consistent with a crash after a drop. On Twitter.

Now would you expect Apple to do that? I'm not finished. Would Apple go on the record to say that you personally have not been taking proper care of your phone? That's what Tesla is doing.

> Tesla's internal policies regarding the release of crash data to consumers doesn't say anything about the 'awesomeness' of the car itself.

Much like food by a cook that doesn't wash hands can still be delicious.


Those aren’t the issues the commenter to which I responded claims to be concerned with. You’re making an argument based on separate concerns, which is valid, but those aren’t the things that we were discussing.


Sorry if I got lost in the woods.


If every Mercedes Benz crash makes national news and the media tries to blame the car for the crash rather than the driver, you bet they will.


My Camry Hybrid has a "black box", but I'm pretty sure I can't get the data.


>But Tesla also took time to publish a blog post characterizing Cordaro as someone who did not take care of his Model S.

>"The suspension ball joint experienced very abnormal rust,” Tesla said of his car, adding that Cordaro “lives down such a long dirt road that it required two tow trucks to retrieve the car.” The car, Tesla also added, was “caked in dirt."

I'll be one of the first people to tell you that Pennsylvanians are a bunch of loud mouth complainers who don't really have it as bad as they say when it comes to vehicle rust.

However, the idea that a low volume, relatively new (there are no 20yo Teslas let alone Teslas that have spend those 20yr in salt states) car company, primarily located in California (!!!), that primarily recruits in California (!!!), is going to be able to determine "normal corrosion" looks like is laughable. Even established car companies can't accurately and consistently predict corrosion 10yr out. Tesla doesn't even have a big enough data-set to make that prediction, let alone the expertise.


When I bought a used truck out of PA I was alarmed by the quantity of rust on the frame, with chunks flaking off here and there. My mechanic assures me it's holding up fine, with below-average rust for its age.


It would appear that US law states that the owner of the vehicle owns the Event Data. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Event_data_recorder


Serious question, Can you get data from any other car manufacturer? I know ICE cars collect information but do you have access to it?


At least the local data can be accessed with OBD interfaces [1] most of the time. I don't know about stuff like theft prevention where the GPS location of the car is being constantly transmitted over GSM/UMTS/LTE, though.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On-board_diagnostics


Typically, the manufacturer's diagnostic tool can download data from the fast stop recorder. An accident investigator should be able to access it for you.


You can get a connector and software and access pretty much anything on a laptop plugged in to the diagnostic port. Of course that software isn't free, and it's generally sold to repair shops so don't know how easy it would be for a consumer to buy.


We use Metromile for our insurance and the tracker we plug in has access to that info which they make available in a simplified form in their app.


Interested to see how this would play out in Europe under the GDPR. Data should be personal data and hence each data subject has full rights to access it.


Not only that the GDPR requires that organisations provide the data in a standardised format that is easy to use / export.


Accelerator pedal immediately went from 0% to 100%?

Really?

Even I don't press my brake like that when parking.


Sure seems like they are hiding something. It should be impossible to make a pressure sensor read 100% instantly. It would normally take 1/3 of a second and you would see the value increase gradually.

Will autopilot even let you floor the accelerator with a car right in front of you?


> Will autopilot even let you floor the accelerator with a car right in front of you?

Yes. Autopilot does not override any user input. This is a major reason why L2 system failure will always be the responsibility of the driver.


They say abruptly.

And this is normal in a mistaken accelerator pedal application. You press down on the 'brake', the car speeds up, you panic stomp down on the 'brake' as hard as you can.


Which would not result in an instant 0% -> 100% reading. One would expect a gradual slope from 0% to, say, 30%, then a sharp increase to 100% some tens or hundreds of milliseconds later.


Normally, from my understanding of these sorts of accidents, you wouldn't fail to move your foot over if you're only braking gently but you might if you need to slam down the brake. As your reflexes slow down as you age you'll find yourself getting into more situations where you need to slam the brake. And it will more often make sense to apply a hard brake now because you know you won't be able to increase the braking force in time later if it becomes necessary. I don't remember the last time I had to slam the brakes in my own driving but when I'm riding with my father he has to do it pretty regularly.


What is logged is not necessarily what happened and it appears no one but Tesla has this data. What events register changes to the pedal setting? is it purely a measure of the pedal movement or what the system decides the setting to be, meaning can other systems in the car affect the value?

without unfettered access to the full data that Tesla has we will never know. Unlike Toyota Tesla does not seem willing to cooperate.

I am all for logging and accessibility to it but logging is only as valuable when you know the how and why of each event.


> Even I don't press my brake like that when parking.

You might if you thought it was the brake and the car was accelerating.


Nope. Unless they have really shitty logging intervals, which would also be a problem.


People do this all the time. Look at what Toyota went through -- drivers were claiming "sudden acceleration" but in reality they were slamming on the accelerator.

https://www.caranddriver.com/features/its-all-your-fault-the...


Since there is clearly an interface to obtain the data, used at least by third-party vendor 'Crash Data Group', it seems it'd be possible to develop an external logger to plug in while driving.

Such data loggers are commonly used in racecars, using either their own sensors, or in stock versions, also tied into the OBDII ports. It looks at everyghing from driver inputs, to engine performance, 6-axis G loads, etc.

Seems it'd be pretty nice to get the data anyway to help manage your own driving (or check the habits of someone borrowing your car, like your kid), and in case of an incident, your own log of the events so you don't have to pester/subpoena Tesla.


I have an anecdote, somewhat in defense of Tesla: a few years ago I was the victim of an armed robbery. One of the things I lost was my iPod touch, which was logged into a few media services, including Netflix. A few days later, logging into my Netflix account, I noticed that my "Recently played/Continue watching" list had some things I had never watched (including the show "Prison Break").

I called Netflix customer support and asked if I could get location/IP logs. The Netflix support person was very sympathetic but said that it was not company policy to release that info. I didn't ask for the issue to be elevated, or ask about a subpoena (I assume Netflix would respond to a subpoena).

But IMO, the difference between my situation with Netflix, and Tesla is:

1. Netflix does not seem to have a practice of divulging my user data in a public forum.

2. The circumstances for my data request were unusual -- it's not as if every time a Netflix-equipped device gets stolen, Netflix is expected to respond, or even be aware of it. But presumably, Tesla has a data process ready in the event of every kind of accident, no matter the actual cause or circumstances.

In other words, what I was asking from Netflix was refused because they don't have a standard operating procedure for responding to info about IP/location requests. If such a thing were needed, it's not hard to imagine Netflix making it a service, just as FB and Google data takeouts include login location history.

But Tesla does have standard procedure for retrieving, storing, and transmitting vehicle logs, including divulging the data publicly without being compelled by the government. Which is why users seem to have a greater expectation that Tesla should be able to send them their own data.


Under GDPR, Netflix would probably have to divulge this data.


Isn't this true of any car company? BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus aren't going to hand over vehicle data. You can't just ask Google for your Android Auto data.


But as a bonus, they're not likely to be so "proactive" about handing over your vehicle data or findings to the media to help manage their publicity process, either...


Those companies aren't in the news blaming drivers for crashes which occur while using their "autopilot" tech. So you may be right, but context matters. Maybe someday it will be them in the hot seat, but today, it's Tesla.


As I recall, when Toyota was dealing with accidents involving electronic throttles and "unintended acceleration" they did publicly claim that the accidents were a case of drivers stepping on the throttle instead of the brake.

(Note, this was separate from the real problem of floor mats interfering with the pedals, for which there was a recall).

The NHTSA apparently agreed.

Because proof that the ETCS-i caused the reported UAs was not found does not mean it could not occur. However, the testing and analysis described in this report did not find that TMC ETCS-i electronics are a likely cause of large throttle openings as described in the VOQs

Acronyms and details in the report:

https://one.nhtsa.gov/About-NHTSA/Press-Releases/ci.NHTSA%E2...


For European customers that's a non-issue thanks to GDPR.


A few months ago my valet backed my brand new X into a wall in the garage. I asked Tesla for the data to help use this for insurance. At no point was Tesla possibly at fault, but they still told me that in order to get the data I would need a subpoena.


I mean, that seems like a pretty open and shut case for insurance... What is the purpose of needing the additional data from Tesla?


Stupid question but don't insurance companies require access to this data? Seems odd.


For Europeans the GDPR may come to rescue. This is data that is highly personal and thus getting a copy of it or having the right to get it erased should be possible.


1) Does Tesla enforce an arbitration clause with their customers? Most (shady?) companies do this these days.

2) If so, can the customer actually get a court order in arbitration?


I am curious if GDPR has any impact on customer's rights to this data?


What if this request was under GDPR jurisdiction?


Toxic decision on Tesla’s part. Yet another fire needing to be put out that never should have started in the first place. They’re really making things more difficult for themselves.


This isn't really a single decision, it's an attitude baked into Tesla's philosophy. You don't own the car; you just decide where to drive it. Tesla owns your car in every meaningful way (except liability apparently).


What's the deal with the recent flood of anti-Tesla news? Does someone want to buy Tesla stock, or is Tesla just no longer cool?


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17238225 and marked it off-topic.


> What's the deal with the recent flood of anti-Tesla news?

At the end of March Tesla had $2.6bn of cash on its balance sheet [1]. Against that they have (a) $1.8bn of current debt (i.e. due within one year), $1.2bn of which is recourse (page 24) and (b) between investments and operations a cash burn of $1.1bn in Q1.

Tesla needs to raise new capital. That is as obvious to investors as it is to bankers. So the latter are getting ready. I've received a call every week for the past months from Morgan Blergh or Goldman Go-away sounding me out for exotic hybrid debt products. After those calls, I dutifully searched for and read a few articles. Publishers saw the views. So we get this.

From a utilitarian perspective, the financial press is informing investors about something they will need to dig into soon. From a stupid perspective, we have the bandwagon.

[1] https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1318605/000156459018... page 4


This article [+] explains it pretty succinctly, with as little bias as possible (TL;DR Tesla is the most shorted stock in the US, while also endangering entrenched interests).

[+] https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/5/29/1767826/-The-War-...

EDIT: below content moved up to this comment from danso reply in order to be more concise as well as to keep signal to post ratio high:

I do my best to provide non-biased sources/citations, as well as provide arguments without any intellectual disingenuity. If you can find something that is inaccurate or subjective, please point it out.

It's fairly obvious that the data used by Reveal was manipulated in their sensational Tesla piece, and I'm happy to continue to aggregate additional sources that bear that out. You left out the next six paragraphs that explain why there is no basis in fact for what Reveal wrote.


Note: I have friends and acquaintances who work at Reveal; I used to work at ProPublica, and the social circle of nonprofit journalism is pretty small.

That said, I'm not making an a priori argument that Reveal is right. My objection was to you claiming the DK post has "as little bias as possible", when it seems to be a vigorous defense of Tesla, by a Tesla owner. Again, nothing wrong with stated bias -- I'm objecting to your characterization.

For example, the author has time for rhetoric like this:

> Of course, Reveal has shown no interest whatsoever in fact checking. If you have anything bad to say about Tesla, by all means, give them a call. They'll write an article about whatever you tell them.

Yet this objective article you tout fails to note that Tesla -- about a month after Reveal's initial investigation that Tesla "left injuries off the books" -- belatedly added the injuries that Reveal called out:

https://www.revealnews.org/article/tesla-left-injuries-off-t...

> Tesla Inc. recently added more names to its list of injured employees after Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting raised questions about whether the company was counting all of its work injuries, records show.

> The electric car company added 13 injuries from 2017 that had been missing when Tesla certified its legally mandated injury report earlier this year.

Again, feel free to trash Reveal's overall aims and ulterior motives. But an objective critique of their investigation should probably note that Tesla moved to fix the errors that Tesla had previously denied.


I've just left a voicemail with Cal/OSHA and am waiting to hear back. If my statement you replied to turns out to be incorrect, I will post a retraction if my edit window times out.

If it's true that Tesla is hiding workplace industries, this is of course something that I will want to find a way to get answers to at the annual meeting. That is unacceptable regardless of organization.


I appreciate the followup. Note that I'm not defending the Reveal investigation as a whole, for the sake of this argument. The complaint that Reveal is unfairly or disproportionately criticizing Tesla is not for me to decide. My main point is whether the investigation's primary claim -- that Tesla is undercounting reportable injuries -- is valid.


> Step up Reveal, an “independent journalism organization” to start “reporting” on Tesla. Quotation marks are normally considered to denote sarcasm, and boy do I ever mean it.

Sounds like an article committed to defending Tesla. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but "with as little bias as possible" is debatable.


I don't see how you take the writer saying "These people are reporting outright falsehoods and their falsehoods appear to closely match the talking points of a PR campaign" as an indication that they're committed to defending Tesla. If those facts are true, that seems like the sort of thing an unbiased analysis would explain.


Yes, but this purportedly-unbiased analysis does not explain these assertions, and resorts to strawman arguments:

For example:

> The first of their “personal stories” was about how a person involved in developing the factory was told that they can’t use yellow caution tape or beeping forklifts because they offend Musk’s sensibilities. The lack of these things, according to Reveal, could be to blame for the “high” rate of injuries.

The assertion that Tesla lacked yellow because of Musk's preference is attributed to the factory's former safety lead, Justine White, and documented in her 2017 resignation letter: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4437759-Resignation-...

You can argue about whether Reveal should have talked to Tesla's former safety lead, but the story doesn't assign blame to lack of yellow or whatever for the rate of injuries. In fact, the story is not about Tesla's "high" rate of injuries. The story notes that Tesla's injury rate in 2017 fell steeply. The point of the story is that, according to Tesla's own internal log, injuries that are mandated to be reported were not listed on the official report.

According to a Reveal followup a month later, Tesla's official injuries report has been amended with the injuries that Reveal accused Tesla of hiding:

https://www.revealnews.org/article/tesla-left-injuries-off-t...

The dailykos article doesn't have to agree that Reveal was overall in the right to investigate Tesla, but an objective analysis would note Tesla's actions in response to the investigation.

In fact, if you read the Reveal followup, you'll see that the added injuries don't even make Tesla a particular outlier:

> The additions raise Tesla’s 2017 injury rate to 6.3 injuries per 100 workers, just above the 2016 industry average of 6.2.

So noting the followup, and the adjusted stat, is well within the comfort zone of an article that attempts to objectively defend Tesla. Yet the dailykos writer seems to have completely missed reading the followup and can only throw insults at Reveal. That does not seem like an "unbiased" analysis to me.


Tesla has also been on a long over-hype, under-deliver streak that understandably makes people want to criticize them.


Ex-journo perspective: One of the reasons why you'll see a flood of negative news about a company is that once one well-reported piece comes out about potential wrongdoing, more reporters will take a look at a person/company to see if they can find something wrong. Negative reporting on Tesla, especially its labor practices, is nothing new. (See Caroline O'Donovan's work for Buzzfeed News.) Part of the reason for this is that investigative work takes time, and you have to know where to look. Barking up the wrong tree too much is costly and unproductive.

In addition, you'll often see more negative reporting come about after one story as people who have inside knowledge choose to share their stories after initial reporting. I had people reach out with additional information, unsolicited, to both my former colleagues and me following the publication of a piece. It's generally along the lines of "oh, you think that's bad, have a look at this."

All that happens because it's very rare to see isolated incidents of bad behavior inside an organization. When there's smoke, there's usually fire.


I feel like it's the natural flow of reporting. Tesla spent a long time releasing exciting products and getting positive press coverage because of that. As that exposure increased, interest in them as an organization, as well as the amount of information & sources available also increased. With that increased exposure, it's almost inevitable that it would lead to problems being uncovered.


I'd like Tesla to succeed in terms of mass produced electric cars, but their self driving program in particular is reckless, and the way they treat their own customers after their product kills them is just horrific.

They really should just cut their losses on autopilot and focus on figuring out their production line.


as an amateur Musk-mythologist, I would guess something we can't see is going on behind the scenes. Since around the time he started dating Grimes, Elon's general tone has gotten more combative. Whether he's deliberately courting bad press or it's a byproduct of something else isn't clear to me, but I would hazard a guess that it's part of something larger.

Part of why I find the Elon Musk story so fascinating is because we're seeing in real time how the 'great man' and 'great forces' narratives of history can both be applied as filters to understand what's going on. I would think the flood of bad press is better explained by the 'great forces' filter, but I don't understand that filter intuitively enough to usefully speculate what's changed.


His earlier company PayPal was also pretty customer hostile locking up money for indeterminate amounts of time. They also played the "were not a bank even though we look a lot like one" card.

I think this is just how he operates.


This is an interesting take. Would you care to speculate about what may be going on under the surface?


I have thee theories, any of which could be true independently of each other. From a long-term perspective it seems obvious to me that Musk is aligned with some kind of progress-friendly coalition, and that this is part of a greater pattern of sabre - rattling between Elon's faction and a more conservative rival which many of the legacy media outlets belong to. On a smaller scale, it could be that the labour and automation issues are pretty well sorted and he's baiting shorts. Finally, it could be that since he's entered a new romantic relationship recently, he's simply undergoing a personality change and more easily combative.


Yup, the media cycle. While usually starts from actual incidents, you can bet that they wouldn't repeatedly make the front page except by intention. I have a hard time knowing whether this, anti-FB, anti-Goog, anti-Twitter, anti-whatever is the result of a conspiracy or if it's just the simple fact that by building a furor the media can generate views. Surely the latter, but it's annoying and when it rains it pours for these companies. Props to be able to see the pattern though it doesn't necessarily discredit the content, just its prioritization.


There's a third option that you're not considering: these companies receive significant scrutiny from the press because of their size and power, especially as it relates to our daily lives. That scrutiny leads to the disclosure of wrongdoing and controversy where it's found. In my experience with journalistic outlets, they're not writing stories out of a cynical desire for pageviews, or because of some massive conspiracy, they're writing because they believe there's an important story the public should be aware of.

In order for a media conspiracy to work, you would need to convince dozens if not hundreds of individual, competing journalists (who are not exactly known for their conformity) to go along with a scheme. I don't believe that should pass Occam's Razor for anyone.


That option doesn't explain the ebb and flow. You are talking about the content, I am talking about prioritization. I also doubt the conspiracy, but we can't ignore the glaring coincidence of anomalous anti-X deluges that occur all at once. And we can't explain it away as simply a result of increased scrutiny. In fact, often the articles these outlets run are disguised op-ed pieces with no new information and the reader can have a hard time telling the difference.


Are all the anti-FB stories a campaign to short FB stock?


I'm long on Facebook and wholeheartedly share the anti-FB sentiment that's prevalent among people who value privacy, democracy, and facts.

In my opinion, the company needs what Uber got: a radical leadership change. It may tank the stock for a few quarters, but it'll make the company stronger in the long-run.


well Elon went an an anti-news tirade on twitter a few days back, that probably accelerated things a bit.

but Model 3 pricing still being higher than promised, and not being produced fast enough, and Model S running into things while on autopilot was also helping before that.


It could be that reality is catching up to their anti-user practices.


Elon's reality distortion bubble is failing.


There’s no need to posit conspiracy nonsense. Tesla has received glowing uncritical coverage for a long time, this is just the correction.

It appears from the comments that the Cult of Elon can’t handle this. Elon is perfect, anything negative about him or his interests are conspiracies to destroy him.

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