"We always carefully data log media drives"By http://profile.typepad.com/1237764140s22740 // February 14, 2013 in Privacy
Tesla Motors yesterday published a fascinating defense of the capabilities of one of its models of electric car.
The defense took the form of a blog post by Elon Musk, and presented charts, a map and other information in an effort to discredit the veracity of a recent, negative NY Times review of the model's performance.
There is a tone of righteousness in Musk's post:
"Our request of The New York Times is simple and fair: please investigate this article and determine the truth. You are a news organization where that principle is of paramount importance and what is at stake for sustainable transport is simply too important to the world to ignore."
I think that's okay. It may be true that electric cars will save the world, and presumably the idea that cars are a "cause" is consistent with the company's brand messaging. It certainly isn't the company's responsibility to welcome negative reviews (though surely it would be in the company's interest to ensure its assertions of what the data shows are credible).
Far more controversial is the apparent fact that Tesla was keeping tabs on the car's performance during the very drive written about by the New York Times reviewer.
"We always carefully data log media drives," Musk wrote.
Interestingly, in a Tuesday blog post, the NY Times reviewer, John Broder, knowing that a data-laden rebuttal would be coming, did not cry foul about the prospect that Tesla would cite information logged from the test drive. Presumably, the company made no assurance of privacy to the NY Times?
Eventually, all cars will gather and transmit travel and performance information. When cars become driverless or otherwise permit new levels of passivity in the driver's seat, travel won't be possible unless such information is gathered, networked and shared.
One can imagine a state of expectations in which a lack of personal roadway privacy is presumed, except when one is engaged in journalistic activity!
Pictured: one of the annotated charts from the Tesla blog post.