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?
24 thoughts on “PE Obama's Phone Records Breached By Verizon Employees”
Wow, that’s not gonna be good for their business I’m thinking. I wager most people will reason “If they can’t keep the President-Elect’s information secure, how will they keep mine?”. However, I think that’s a tad faulty, merely for the fact that Obama holds a much larger interest to people than the average “joe” citizen’s phone info. Still, its a bit unsettling, to say the least!
Well, we didn’t see his birth certificate or college records. At least we should see who he talks to! I would have a hard time NOT looking at that account! What other shady/slimy/socialist relationships did they find?
Well, that’s one way to build brand awareness.
(what reason do they have to issue a release?)
What’s worse? The government listening in on phone calls to the mideast to stop terrorism, or someone looking at Obama’s phone records?
I had a Verizon Wireless account for well over ten years, which began when it was Bell Atlantic. One of my long-time friends (well over 22 years) who worked for Verizon Wireless decided to “watch” my phone activity because he was jealous of a girl I was talking to. When I found out what he was doing, I immediately called Verizon Wireless and complained… oh, and he wasn’t my friend anymore! Verizon Wireless looked into it and eventually fired him. All of the people who indiscriminately viewed Barrack’s account details should be fired as well! This kind of activity happens more than we want to know!
Normally I wouldn’t call into question anyone’s competence, but in this case I have no choice. There is no requirement for any presidential candidate to show his/here birth certificate or college records to the public. Our government takes care of verification of legal status as an american citizen. That said, note that Obama was Harvard Law School’s first person of color who was editor of the Harvard Law Review. This means, in case you’re not intelligent enough to understand, he was at the top of his class. Contrast this point with Bush NOT being close to the top of his b-school class. Hence, IF birth certificate and college records were required Bush wouldn’t have been elected. See current economy for point of reference on incompetence.
Moving forward, if you understand what defines a socialist economy you would know that we’re not even close, nor will Obama make the US a socialist society. Supply side economics doesn’t work, nor has it ever. As Alan Greenspan stated very clearly (he’s a supply sider in case you don’t know or understand), “a lifetime of understanding is flawed.”
Move forward, except you don’t understand what’s best for yourself. In the long run, you’ll be better off.
Kind regards… (and sorry Om for my harsh tone which I don’t usually show)
I guess Matt is spot on. Unless Verizon was being accused of wrong doing and this was the official response there is no upside in revealing such information. Now the real upside is to say President Obama is trusting Verizon for Mobile services.
And what is it with ‘The account has been inactive for several months’ comment ?
this is sounding very watergate-ish……
…..how do we know those records weren’t forwarded to someone in the republican party ?
…..what kinds of blackmail landmines are these people cooking up on Obama ?
…..they can take his calls, cross reference them against the recipients, again and again until they come up with some “scandalous” connection…
…..these employees need to go to JAIL, they need to be shown justice, this kind of invasion is patently WATERGATE = BREAKING IN TO YOUR POLITICAL OPPONENTS’ HEAD(quarters)
Somebody is SO going to get an IRS audit over this…
I don’t know if this would be “punishment,” per se, but I say Obama should just make the FCC hold Verizon’s feet to the fire on the issues of net neutrality, faster network upgrades, rural access and open access rules for 700 MHz wireless. The irony, of course, is that these things would probably be GOOD for Verizon, but it would never act on them without arm twisting.
You are an idiot answering another idiot! Both of you should take your ridiculous political banter so where else. You are both morons lying about the facts! Go away! Both of you!
This sort of thing happens frequently on a massive scale. Companies often allow employees access to more data than they should, and often lack the simple ability to audit trail and see who accessed what. I wrote more about this toping on my Privacy 2.0 blog
This should be a fun one to watch unfold… but I guess Verizon won’t be talking too much about Google and its privacy issues anymore, eh?
What business need is that?
“Employees with legitimate business needs”
You gotta hear this 90 minute blogradio on why the media has a blackout of the looming Obama Birth Certificate Constitutional Crisis:
I really don’t understand why you think Verizon should be punished. Sounds like they’re taking disciplinary actions against the employees, and Obama could press charges against the employees if he wanted to.
Issues like this make me laugh – if you’re afraid someone might find out who you’re talking to, don’t use a mechanism that leaves records! Ah, the benefits of the post office.
Personally, I’m more concerned about the people employed by health insurance companies – they could be overseas yet have full access to my health records.
Express Scripts, a major pharmacy/prescription drug firm used by millions, might have something to say about lack of security of personal – very personal – records:
Wow, this is a great place to come and visit. It’s fantastic to read what ignorant people have to say. There’s an endless stream of idiocy here.
Curious/yellow’s comment, “What other shady/slimy/socialist relationships did they find,” was particularly inspiring. And Curtis, referencing Alan Greenspan. Great job! Quote a guy who forgot to put the “people suck” variable in his economic calculation.
This is a prime example of people not paying attention. You people make me sad.
Punish them like the FCC’s indecency rules — pick a number, say $100,000 for each unauthorized access. 20 people, $2m fine – 50% payable to the person who’s privacy was breached.
no one has said anything more re. the DHHS person in Ohio that looked up and released joe the plumer’s records
that has just been hushed up
I work for the competitor and it is mandatory that we ask for the customer’s drivers license before accessing their account when they come in to the store. Without it we will not access the account and many customers become upset. Good example why we have such high security on accounts.