Verizon Wireless said that "a number of employees" accessed President-Elect Barack Obama's cell phone records without authorization.
That's not a great way to introduce yourself to an incoming president. Unfortunately, I'm not surprised.
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.
The next logical question is how often this happens. My guess is it happens a lot. If employees can tap into Obama's phone records yours are laying around for examination too.
And guess what? These privacy breaches most likely extend beyond the wireless industry. I've known a few customer service reps who could tell me some of the credit card limits of famous folks. It's great party chatter. It's also a privacy breach.