Verizon Wireless Employees Peek into Obama’s Phone Records

November 21st, 2008 at 12:00 am

verizon wireless

The US secret service does not allow the President to have his own cell phone.  I learned this trivia while watching the Late Show with David Letterman.  At first I thought it was absurd because of all people, the president is the busiest and most in need of a Blackberry.  However, I remembered Harrison Ford in the movie Air Force One rummaging through bags in the cargo hold looking for a mobile phone when terrorists took over the plane.  So I guess Letterman wasn’t joking.

Indeed he wasn’t.  Reports are coming out that some people have accessed President-Elect Barack Obama’s phone records.  Unauthorized Verizon Wireless employees are said to have viewed Obama’s phone account.  Of course the wireless provider’s management was pissed.  Verizon Wireless President and CEO Lowell McAdam issued this statement:

“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.”

So, it’s that easy to access the president’s phone if he did have one.  Moreover, if that is so, ordinary people’s phone accounts are easier to access then.  I’m no privacy advocate activist but I think there’s a security issue here that has to be addressed.