Even if a car is consigned to a junkyard, Tesla is still holding onto information
If you sell or trade-in your car, you have the opportunity to erase personal data saved to it. Stored destination in the navigation system and contacts paired from your phone shouldn't necessarily go to the next person to drive the car. But if it's a Tesla that's been in a crash and in a salvage yard, your information is still in there and can be accessed.
According to a self-described "white hat hacker" who goes by the name GreenTheOnly, he told CNBC Friday. Using a salvaged Tesla Model 3 purchased at auction last year, researchers discovered all of the mobile devices that had been paired to the car, as well as phone numbers and email addresses from those devices. It discovered that it was owned by a construction company in the Boston area, the last six dozen addresses entered into the navigation and video footage from the crash that sent it to the junkyard. That was from one of the many cameras in Teslas that owners have often said they don't know when they're actually on.
And, according to the business news network, it's somewhat difficult for even owners to clear that data off of their Tesla.
On one hand, Tesla holds car-generated data closely, and has fought customers in court to refrain from giving up vehicle data.Owners must purchase $995 cables and download a software kit from Tesla to get limited information out of their cars via "event data recorders" there, should they need this for legal, insurance or other reasons.
In a statement to CNBC, a Tesla spokesperson said the automaker, "already offers options that customers can use to protect personal data stored on their car," through a factory reset or Valet Mode, and that it is, "always committed to finding and improving upon the right balance between technical vehicle needs and the privacy of our customers."
While all cars can store destinations and contacts and all users should be careful when pairing their mobile devices to any network, it's on the backs of all automakers to make this information more secure. And in Tesla's case, trying to be at the forefront of in-car technology means it will also need to be at the forefront of in-car technology security and transparency of information being collected.