Tesla leak: Australian man agrees to delete confidential company files he posted on social media

<span>Tesla took NSW man Keith ‘Keef’ Leech to court after he posted documents allegedly obtained from whistleblower Lukasz Krupski on social media.</span><span>Photograph: Vincent West/Reuters</span>
Tesla took NSW man Keith ‘Keef’ Leech to court after he posted documents allegedly obtained from whistleblower Lukasz Krupski on social media.Photograph: Vincent West/Reuters

An Australian man has agreed to demands from Tesla to delete confidential internal company files he had posted on social media, just days before the case was due to be heard in court.

Guardian Australia first reported that the New South Wales man Keith “Keef” Leech had been taken to court by Elon Musk’s electric car and clean energy company in January, after he had been posting documents allegedly obtained from the Tesla whistleblower Lukasz Krupski on social media sites.

Krupski last year leaked data from the company claiming the technology behind Tesla’s self-driving cars is not safe enough to allow the cars to be driven on public roads. The leaked material included customer complaints about Tesla’s braking and self-driving software.

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Tesla in January had sought an arrest warrant for Leech in the Australian federal court after he continued to post the documents online in defiance of a court order, but the judge told the company it was an unrealistic and draconian request.

Leech, who also goes by the name Keef Wivaneff, subsequently told the Australian in January he took all the documents offline once he had received the order at his home.

A hearing in the case was due to be heard on Wednesday, but was cancelled after the mediation between the parties resulted in an agreement earlier this month.

In the orders by consent issued on 6 June, Leech was ordered to delete all files within 72 hours from his devices and from any cloud or filesharing services being used.

It included any from Krupski relating to Tesla or Tesla vehicles, contained in specific zip files titled “leak.zip, Beanz.zip, Juicy.zip, or Teslafiles.zip”. The order also orders him to delete any other non-public documents including technical reports, complaints, vehicle repairs, meeting notes, product testing, analysis or design documents.

Leech and Tesla have both been approached for comment.

The order requires Leech to file an affidavit that he has completed the tasks and warns any breach of the order could lead to “imprisonment, sequestration of property or other punishment”.

Leech has continued to post on Threads – Meta’s rival to Musk’s X – criticisms of the electric carmaker including “fuck you Ewon” and mentions of the Tesla files that Leech says he has to “STFU [shut the fuck up] about”.

Tesla’s use of the Australian legal system to force posts to be deleted on social media comes as Musk’s other company, X, has been engaged in a legal battle against the Australian online safety regulator over orders to remove posts containing videos of the Wakeley church stabbing incident.

Musk declared “free speech prevailed” after the eSafety commissioner earlier this month dropped a federal court case against X over failure to remove 65 tweets with the video, but an administrative appeal tribunal case challenging eSafety’s removal notice is due to be heard next month.