A report in The Verge states Tesla wants to keep secret its response to the federal investigation into its Autopilot driver-assist system. In a memo submitted to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), regulators noted that Tesla has requested “confidential business information (CBI) treatment for the entirety of the information request submission.”
The controversial Autopilot system has been linked to a series of serious and fatal accidents.
Ongoing Investigation of Autopilot
So what does this mean? It means that if Tesla’s request is granted, it would effectively bar the media and the public from seeing the company’s response to a whole lot of information that NHTSA has requested regarding its probe into Autopilot and possible defects. NHTSA wants to know why Tesla did not recall Autopilot after it became obvious that the driver-assist system had problems detecting parked emergency vehicles.
The agency is also asking the automaker for more information about the growing public beta test of its incomplete Full Self-Driving software, the recently launched “Safety Score” evaluation process for entering the program, and the nondisclosure agreements Tesla was making participants sign.
The request for confidentiality comes as scrutiny intensifies into Tesla and its willingness to roll out unfinished software updates to customers. At least a dozen instances have occurred where Tesla vehicles with Autopilot engaged have crashed into parked emergency vehicles. While Tesla shipped a software update to its cars meant to fix the problem in September, NHTSA wants to know why Tesla did not go through the formal recall with its update.
The Trouble with Secrecy
Our auto defect attorneys have spoken up against crucial information about auto defects and product defects not being available to consumers because of secret agreements shielded from public view. This type of secrecy may be necessary sometimes to protect personal information or legitimate trade secrets. There are plenty of laws that offer protection to corporations.
But, when important product information is shrouded in secrecy, consumers cannot protect themselves from these dangerous or defective products. We hope the information about Tesla’s Autopilot issues is out for everyone to see. Several people have died, and many others have suffered injuries in Autopilot collisions. We as consumers, deserve to know the truth.