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By Jimmy H. Koo
Tesla Inc. allegedly automatically transmitted personal information embedded in scanned licenses of test drivers to third parties for marketing and sales purposes without the drivers’ consent, according to a complaint seeking class status ( Skiles v. Tesla, Inc. , N.D. Cal., No. 3:17-cv-05434, class complaint filed 9/19/17 ).
Tesla’s high-end electric vehicles have been marketed to higher-income customers, making information about people test-driving the cars potentially very appealing to marketers.
The complaint, filed Sept. 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, also named information services company Experian Information Solutions Inc., mobile application developer Appstem Media LLC, and venture capital company Salesforce Ventures LLC.
Tesla offers its potential customers the opportunity to test drive its vehicles if they can provide a valid driver’s license. Plaintiff Wayne Skiles alleged in the complaint that when a Tesla employee scanned the license, Appstem’s app, which was created specifically for Tesla, automatically transmitted personal information embedded in the magnetic strip of the license to Tesla’s market database at Salesforce.
The information was then distributed to Experian and other unknown third parties, Skiles alleged. Experian used the information to create an overview of the creditworthiness of test drivers, which Tesla could use for marketing and sales purposes, Skiles alleged.
Alleging violations of the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Skiles is asking the court to force Tesla to stop sharing customer data without consent and to award damages.
Salesforce spokeswoman Karly Bolton told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 21 that the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Tesla, Experian, and Appstem didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg BNA’s email requests for comment.
Kazerouni Law Group APC and Hyde & Swigart represent the plaintiff. Counsel for defendants couldn’t be immediately identified.
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Full text of the complaint is available at http://src.bna.com/sKB.
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