Verizon Wireless (s VZ) today admitted that some of its employees had been looking into President-elect Barack Obama’s cell phone billing records. In a release, the company said:
“This week we learned that a number of Verizon Wireless employees have, without authorization, accessed and viewed President-Elect Barack Obama’s personal cell phone account. The account has been inactive for several months. The device on the account was a simple voice flip-phone, not a BlackBerry or other smartphone designed for e-mail or other data services.
“All employees who have accessed the account — whether authorized or not — have been put on immediate leave, with pay. As the circumstances of each individual employee’s access to the account are determined, the company will take appropriate actions. Employees with legitimate business needs for access will be returned to their positions, while employees who have accessed the account improperly and without legitimate business justification will face appropriate disciplinary action.
“We apologize to President-elect Obama and will work to keep the trust our customers place in us every day.”
This is a good enough reason for all of us to question the privacy policies of our phone companies, which have time and again shown that they are ready to play loose-and-easy with their customer’s privacy. Of course, they are known to use underhanded tactics to position themselves as the good guys, though they are anything but.
In my opinion, this breach — regardless of what your political leanings — is not a good thing. If President-elect Obama’s records are not safe, who is to say a disgruntled employee won’t mess with those of private citizens with whom they have an axe to grind. What do you think Verizon’s punishment should be?