Tesla wins case against ex-employee accused of stealing data

The company celebrates its latest victory against Martin Tripp, who was accused of hacking and sharing sensitive information

Tesla sign

Tesla has won a legal case against one of its former employees after he was fired for allegedly hacking internal data and transferring this to third-parties.

The electric vehicle giant claimed that Martin Tripp, who formerly worked at the Gigafactory in Nevada, admitted to writing software that hacked the manufacturer’s operating system in 2018, according to Reuters.

Tripp managed to transfer several gigabytes of data to third parties, Tesla alleges, in addition to a separate incident in which he fed false information to media outlets.

In a ruling issued on Friday in the US District Court of Nevada, Tesla was granted three motions to seal, meaning court documents that would otherwise have been made public are now being withheld.

Tesla history with Martin Tripp stretches to 2018, where the company pinpointed the assembly line worker as being the culprit for allegedly leaking Business Insider that Tesla was scrapping or reworking 40% of raw materials at the site.

Tripp was accused of stealing and sharing company data not only with the press but also unnamed third-parties and was eventually sued for $167 million, according to Bloomberg.

Elon Musk, in particular, was reportedly keen to hit back at the former Tesla employee for what he described as “extensive and damaging sabotage”. Tripp has previously denied stealing data from Tesla, according to the same report, suggesting “I’m not that smart”.

The latest round in the ongoing legal battle, which centres on the alleged theft of trade secrets, hit fever pitch in August this year when Tripp was reprimanded for allegedly uploading and posting court documents as well as depositions.

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He agreed to pay Tesla $500 per day if he disclosed anything covered by a protective order, and the judge also ordered him to remove links, postings and any other means the court documents could be accessed.

Data theft is a critical concern for all businesses, with threats coming not only from the outside but from within many companies’ own workforce.

Research published last year, for instance, found that more than half of UK employees would be willing to sell corporate information to a third-party for the right price.

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