No Surprise Here: Telco Employees Access Obama's Phone Records

from the but-of-course dept

We've pointed out plenty of times in the past, that any time there's a database of info out there, the data is almost certain to be abused. The latest example? Employees at Verizon Wireless improperly accessed Barack Obama's phone records to see who he was calling and who was calling him. The access was just for his regular phone used for voice communications -- not his Blackberry. Also, the employees had no access to his voicemail or anything -- just calling records. At least Verizon Wireless came out and admitted this, rather than covering it up, but it's yet another reminder, that data will be abused.

And, of course, Obama isn't the only one facing such an issue. Reader lavi d writes in to point out that eighteen background checks were conducted in Ohio by gov't employees on Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber. Eight of those background checks were done for no legitimate reason, including one at the request of the director of Ohio's Department of Job and Family Services (who has now been suspended). We had mentioned three such cases earlier, but even more have since come to light.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    BN, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 5:33am

    Apples and Oranges

    While the employees of Verizon should be punished for accessing these records, there is no comparison between employees of a commercial enterprise accessing records and employees of the Government using state resources for political purposes. Both are wrong, but one is an abuse of power. Verizon may be big, but it is not Big Brother.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Abuse of Power, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 6:39am

    Throw the Book at Em

    Verizon should be punished. Obviously it and its employees feel they are above the law. I wonder why? This is what the average citizen was worried about. All this phone record abuse and wire tapping that was swept under the rug by the previous administration should and will not be tolerated any longer. Please give Verizon a hefty fine and some members jail time. We should not allow this to happen ever again. However, I would love if they tapped in to GB's phone. I imagine some great conversations that would make you want to laugh and cry.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 6:51am

    Re: Apples and Oranges

    "there is no comparison between employees of a commercial enterprise accessing records and employees of the Government using state resources"

    Yes there is.
    Is it possible they both were for political gain ?
    Either way, they are both abusive.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 6:55am

    Watching

    When we created a database system we tracked every query (stored in audit tables) and automatically dumped e-mails, records phone calls, word documents, anything sent to the printer to the database audit tables as well. Very high level of system access was implemented to make sure no one gained access to something they should not, even if was part of their typical job (IE you may need access to X data but if your spouse/relative was in the data set it would automatically be filtered). Typically the data collection was done as there was always a legal case going on about how and where the data was moved around and who accessed it and did what with it. Often the client would say person 'X' told me this and now I sue you. We needed to prove it was impossible for that to happen. It would be easy to show that no query occurred on that individual and if it did then we need to show who viewed and what they saw with out questions, and if need produce the recorded phone call.
    I quickly became common knowledge around the office when one person was fired because they looked up there brother in-laws financial information who happened to going into a divorce.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Greg, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 6:58am

    The phone call records is Verizons data. Are you telling me they can't access their own information? I work with classified information and there's nothing stopping us from looking at data. The problems comes when you do something with that data that violates one of the privacy laws such as the 1974 privacy act.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 7:06am

    Re: Re: Apples and Oranges

    No a valid comparision. Commercial is by choice where as the government keeps records of all of its citizens. Big difference. You can choose to leave Verizon, but not the government.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 7:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Apples and Oranges

    No a valid comparision. Commercial is by choice where as the government keeps records of all of its citizens. Big difference. You can choose to leave Verizon, but not the government.
    No, having files kept on you by non-governmental organizations is not "by choice". Even if you choose to leave Verizon they still keep their files on you. And you think that you can demand that the credit bureaus just delete all their information on you? No way. And then you have companies like Choice Point building dossiers on everyone that they can. It is not "by choice" by a long shot.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 8:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Apples and Oranges

    But you can chose VZW. I don't understand. It is a choice. CHOICE. Can you spell it out? If Obama had chosen AT&T then VZW would not have his records. Guess what genius? The government would still have his records. CHOICE.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 11:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Apples and Oranges

    Wow, you sure are pig headed.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    anti-greg, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 11:32am

    no they can't

    Without a valid reason, Verizon employees can't access their own information. There are things such as privacy laws which prevent them from doing so (at least legally), and I'm sure Verizon has its own privacy policy concerning customer information. If you don't need to be looking at a customer's records, you SHOULDN'T be looking at a customer's records, or else you're likely to find yourself unemployed. As of right now, those who accessed Obama's records are receiving a nice paid vacation (huh? yeah, that's punishment). The theory is that those who are found to have had no reason to access them will be punished or replaced, but I'll believe that when it happens.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Guy One, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 12:13pm

    lol "throw the book at em!"

    Wha wha.

    oh wait
    "However, I would love if they tapped in to GB's phone. I imagine some great conversations that would make you want to laugh and cry."

    Obvious signs of a SMUG ELITIST SNOB

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Apples and Oranges

    But you can chose VZW. I don't understand. It is a choice. CHOICE. Can you spell it out? If Obama had chosen AT&T then VZW would not have his records. Guess what genius? The government would still have his records. CHOICE.
    Well then, by token if he had chosen to live in another country then the government wouldn't have his records either, would they? So, I guess even that is by choice too, huh? Or he could have just chosen to not have a phone. Or he could have just chosen to just kill himself and not live at all, so everything is a choice. Yeah, I see how that works. Bullshit.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 2:00pm

    Re:

    The phone call records is Verizons data. Are you telling me they can't access their own information?
    It depends on the reason for the access. The law only allows telcos to collect phone usage data to used for certain purposes. Curiosity and political fishing trips are not among the purposes the law allows that data to be collected.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Rev. Wright, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 2:34pm

    rolf

    Obama's chickens coming home to rooooooost.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 3:09pm

    Re: rolf

    eh ?

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 5:57pm

    Re: Apples and Oranges

    What are the differences between governmental power and non-governmental power? They're both power. In quite a few cases, the corp. is more powerful than the govt.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 9:48pm

    It's pretty hard to stop people with information at their fingertips to use it for their own entertainment. I work at an archive, and when I come across a photo that might be funny or interesting I frequently will bring it to someone else to share. As part of our records management duties, I have access to student academic records. When days are dull and dragging out, sometimes I come across a document in a file which is of particular interest, and the same urge to share happens. Specifically, the language used by the "academic deficiencies committee" is a startling contrast to what is used by the "academic succcess committee these days.

    Ideally everyone's information would be invioable. But if the information is accessed for entertainment or reasons of curiosity, I won't make a big stink about it. Human nature.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    RecordOnlineGuide.blogspot.com, Dec 23rd, 2008 @ 3:08am

    Pretty cool though.

    Try these sites if you want to waste some more time and money

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    RecordOnlineGuide.blogspot.com, Dec 23rd, 2008 @ 3:08am

    Pretty cool though.

    Try these sites if you want to waste some more time and money

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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