Tesla's alleged saboteur sued by carmaker over data theft

Tesla has sued a former employee for hacking the electric-car maker’s confidential and trade secret information, transferring several gigabytes to outside entities along with illicit photos of the production line.

The company accused a former technician at its battery gigafactory in Nevada of launching a sabotage campaign after being denied a promotion. Martin Tripp wrote a computer program to access proprietary information, sending material to three unidentified entities and attempting to cover his electronic tracks, Tesla said in the complaint.

Tripp’s actions were “willful and malicious” and “done with the deliberate intent to injure Tesla’s business,” the company’s lawyers said in the lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in Nevada.

Tesla has been racing to ramp up production of its critical Model 3 sedan to 5 000 cars a week. Last week, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk announced the shrinking the company’s workforce by 9% in a bid for profitability. More than 3 000 workers will lose their jobs, and notices filed with the state of California revealed that more than 500 employees in Fremont and Palo Alto were dismissed.

On Sunday, Musk wrote a memo to employees alleging there was a saboteur within the company’s ranks. CNBC reported the memo in full, while Bloomberg News confirmed with a worker that it had been sent out. Musk said in the memo that the company was still trying to figure out if the employee had acted alone.

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