by Carlo Longino

Verizon Uses HP Spying Flap As PR Bait

from the heard-this-one-before dept

Verizon Wireless has filed suit against 20 people it claims fraudulently tricked it into giving away calling records in the HP spying case so they don't "do it again", a company spokesman says. But Verizon's suit doesn't actually name anybody in particular, just "John and Jane Doe I through XX". Yet again, Verizon's trying to cover up its own failure to protect its' customers' data by suing so it looks tough -- and to draw attention away from the fact that it never should have released this information to begin with. Verizon Wireless and other mobile operators have continually obfuscated this issue, just filing lawsuits after they've leaked info they shouldn't have, then blaming the government for somehow not having adequate legislation. Here's an idea for Verizon and its pals to chew on: instead of filing pointless lawsuits after the fact -- never mind filing them against unknown targets -- why not just stop leaking the information? Hopefully that's what they're being asked today on Capitol Hill. Somehow that seems unlikely, though, as instead of looking at regulations to force the phone companies to improve their lax security, some lawmakers are trying to push through laws that would punish the pretexters. That's the equivalent of the phone companies' lawsuits: it looks like lawmakers are doing something (right before election season), when they're not doing anything meaningful at all. Update: Cingular's joined in, too -- but at least they've managed to figure out who to sue.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 11:45am

    If HP gave the private investigators information about board members like social security, home address, phone numbers, etc... and this was used by the investigators to bypass standard identity tests, it really isn't Verizon's fault. It could have happened to any company.

    The real shame is when investigators DON"T have this kind of information and just pay off an employee for the information. That is completely different.


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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 1:02pm

    More importantly...

    Verizon is correct in trying to recover punitive damages for their property (customer information, billing records, etc.) that was stolen. The Author may be trying to paint the picture that Verizon is only doing this to jump on the "we hate HP" bandwagon, but in all fairness, they do seem to be entitled to reparations. They are likely limited by legal liablilities (re: current investigations in HP case) and thus unable to directly name those they seek reparations from.

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

  3. identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Sep 29th, 2006 @ 2:12pm

    Security Problem?

    I would disagree that Verizon gave up info because of poor security. They were tricked by investigators who had all the proper identification of their targets. What can you do? Realtime DNA sequencing!? Of course it makes no sense to sue unnamed individuals. They certainly know who hired the investigators, sue them. Yeah Right! HP execs are all innocently ignorant! I hope nobody can eat that load of crap and say it is true!

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

  4. identicon
    Maverick, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 2:17pm


    seems to be the 'National Enquirer' of tech sites. Any time one of the big phone companies takes action of any kind, Techdirt is there to spin it in a negative manner.

    I have a PIN on my Verizon Wireless account, so even if someone had a significant amount of personal info to give the telephone rep, they could not access my account info. Ultimately, members of a board of directors should have enough sense to do the same...

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

  5. identicon
    AMP, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Techdirt...

    They don't have a PIN because they figure that nobody can crack the "secret question" on thir account

    What was your first pet's name? - Rasputin!

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

  6. identicon
    Matt, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 3:35pm


    If it seems like Techdirt is always coming down on the Telcos, it's usually because they're up to something. But in this case, I'm going to have to agree with the first few posts where they say that Verizon really had no way of knowing that it wasn't the person listed on the account when it leaked the information. The reality is that your super-secret, only-I-know-it password is not a hard absolute. If you were to call Verizon (and I know because I had to do this because I forgot my clever little six digit code) and had "forgotten" that code, then it's not too hard to get around it.

    Provided that you have enough information, you can get around just about any security measure. That's probably exactly what HP's goons did.

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

  7. identicon
    b, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 6:25pm


    seriously... techdirt is consistently knocking on telcos. how about saying hey look at the new technology that verizon is coming out with to compete with the cable companies. holy shit really..... 30 meg service???? 15 meg at the same price as comcasts 5. these guys must be real serious about investing 15 billion dollars in technology that no one else has the balls to.
    but back to the security... if your GOVERNMENT cant keep millions of peoples personal info safe, why do you expect some corporation to do so....

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

  8. identicon
    PT, Sep 30th, 2006 @ 9:24am

    Because people shouldn't have to expect that kind of behavior from government or a company. "Its always like that so I'm ok with it" attitude is the very reason mistakes like these have very little consequence. No accountability, no personal responsibility, no respect, and no shame. Not enough people apparently care about those things anymore. Reminds me of parents that say "its the game/tv/music's fault my kids turned out bad."

    Perhaps the entire system in our society from top to bottom is so convuluted with bureaucracy, greed, and disdain for other people, that maybe it IS hopeless to change things...

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2006 @ 8:43pm

    Rocket Science?

    Don't the telephone rep have call display and name display? If your name and phone number doesn't match what the caller is saying he is, don't give the information out. It's not rocket science.

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

  10. identicon
    eb, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 6:52am

    Re: Security Problem?

    What they could do is refuse to give out info over the phone--mail it to the billing address only. Customers would just have to get over their need for instant gratification when they needed billing info.

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

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