American cell phone carrier, Verizon Wireless, apologized today upon disclosing news that some of its employees had viewed the private cell phone records of U.S. President-elect, Barack Obama, without authorization.
“A number of Verizon Wireless employees have, without authorization, accessed and viewed President-elect Barack Obama’s personal cell phone account,” revealed Verizon Wireless president and CEO, Lowell McAdam, in a statement.
The information accessed was limited to billing and call records, and did not include any email or voicemail messages, or private financial data, according to the company.
“All employees who have accessed the account — whether authorized or not — have been put on immediate leave, with pay,” McAdam said. “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.”
Obama’s Verizon account was connected to a basic flip phone (not a smartphone), and had been deactivated some months ago, Verizon said. This means that there was probably no opportunity for employees to access confidential or sensitive information, but it also raises significant security concerns about why the account had not been deleted.
“Inactive accounts are a huge problem,” commented security expert and Aveksa CTO, Deepak Taneja. “That inactive account should have been deleted. There was no reason for it to be around. No one seemed to be responsible for it.”
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